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Xcel fined for delay in wind farm lighting system

Jul 9, 2020

Xcel Energy has been fined $10,000 for missing a December 31, 2019 deadline to have a new lighting system on the turbine towers at its Foxtail Wind farm in Dickey County.

The light system is known as “ALDS,” for “Aircraft Light Detection System.” Instead of the blinking red lights, this will turn lights on and off – or dim them – based on aircraft in the area.

The Public Service Commission has approved a siting permit for a wind farm in Burke County.

That, after rejecting a proposed wind farm in that general area in 2019, because of concerns about its impact on wildlife.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A member of the North Dakota Public Service Commission says she’s hoping to draft an order that could satisfy the concerns of the developer of a proposed wind farm in northern McLean County, as well as follow state law concerning light mitigation technology.

The developers of the proposed Ruso wind farm in northern McLean County have asked to appear before the North Dakota Public Service Commission, to make the case for an exemption from the state’s new law for light mitigation.

State law said wind farms permitted after June of 2016 would have to have new lighting systems that turn on tower lights only when an aircraft is detected in the area. One of the complaints from neighbors of wind farms has to do with the blinking red lights used on many of the towers.

Six wind farms have missed a December 31st deadline to install new “Aircraft Detection Lighting Systems” on their turbine towers, as required by state law..

Those wind farms were permitted after June of 2016. That new system replaces the blinking red lights or strobes on wind towers, and only light up when an aircraft is in the area, detected by radar.

"We all know that this technology has been talked about for a long time," Fedorchak said. "It's been promised to the people living near the wind farms."

PSC looking at wind farm decommissioning plans

Dec 10, 2019

Thirty-four North Dakota wind farms have filed “decommissioning plans” with the North Dakota Public Service Commission.

The plans are now required for all wind projects. The first plan is due by the facility’s 10th year, and must be updated every five years after that. The plans deal with clean up of the sites. Those decommissioning plans include the cost per turbine location for reclamation.

The PSC requires a licensed North Dakota engineer to come up with those plans.

A wind farm that had been proposed for Morton Township in Burleigh County will now be built in Emmons and-or Logan counties.

The wind farm -- proposed by PNE Wind USA -- was the subject of some controversy. A number of township residents fought the wind farm, and siting was denied.

PNE Wind USA sold its interest in that ill-fated project to NextEra Energy.

New wind farm to be built near Tioga

May 8, 2019

A new 300 megawatt wind farm has been approved to be built northwest of Tioga.

The Aurora Wind farm has a price tag of $380 million. It would have up to 121 turbines, and would be built over 44,000 acres.

The size of the wind farm's footprint was questioned by North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Randy Christmann.

"That's more than a half-section of land per turbine," Christmann said.

Christmann said some of the recent applicants for wind farm siting have, after approval, narrowed down their site plans.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The developer of a wind farm in McHenry County near Velva has been fined $60,000 because a handful of its wind turbines do not comply with a setback provision negotiated between the company and the North Dakota Public Service Commission.

It concerns the Meadowlark wind farm.

The settlement required a 1400 foot setback from occupied homes, as well as roads and power lines.  Two of the turbines were too close to homes, two were too close to a state highway, and one is near a power line. In the case of the homes, the homeowners have signed waivers.

Wind farms have decommissioning plans

Jun 28, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

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."

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