The Public Service Commission has approved plans for the eventual decommissioning of 14 wind farms in North Dakota.
The plans require companies to have some identified way to pay for the reclamation of the site.
Commissioner Brian Kroshus called it a "forward-looking approach," so that the land can be reclaimed properly when the time comes to shut the turbines off. Kroshus said the unknown is – when will that happen.
"Many (wind farms) will be re-powered with new technology," Kroshus said. "We're seeing that already."
Kroshus said a lot of lower-capacity turbines are being replaced with higher-capacity units.
"I don't know what the crystal ball holds, in when these facilities may actually come out of production," Kroshus said. "It would certainly be decades, I think, for a number of them."
PSC Chairman Randy Christmann said he’s excited the Commission adopted that policy for wind farms. Christmann is from Hazen – and is very familiar with coal reclamation.
"When I pursued this position, one of my goals was to take that knowledge in decades of running coal reclamation, and us it to create and equally effective wind farm reclamation program."
Kroshus said the rough estimate for reclamation is about $125,000 per wind turbine.