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wind farm

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."

New rules proposed by the North Dakota Public Service Commission would change the required lighting on wind towers.

The lights are required for aircraft safety.

Many of the older wind farms use blinking red lights. Some people have complained that those lights remain on even when there are no airplanes in the area. But PSC Chairman Randy Christmann said there are newer technologies for those lighting systems. 

One is “aircraft detection lighting.”

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Another impact of the drought in south-central North Dakota.

The developer of a wind farm and new transmission line in Oliver County will delay replanting of trees and shrubs affected by the development. That replanting is required by the Public Service Commission.

Oliver Wind III, LLC will delay planting until next year.

Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said the delay is a good idea.

"They were concerned there would be a low survivability of the trees and shrubs they did plant," Fedorchak said. "That's because of the lack of rain and drought conditions."

Wind farm warning light change

May 4, 2017
Courtesy Julie Fedorchak

The Public Service Commission has drafted new rules dealing with lights on wind towers.

Right now, most of the towers have blinking red lights – that are on all night. They’re there to keep aircraft away – but neighbors have complained about them. The new rules say new towers have to have “light mitigation technology” – which only turns the lights on when aircraft are in the area.

PSC to hold 'conversations' on renewable energy

Nov 7, 2016
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The Public Service Commission is looking at holding a series of conversations with the public – to discuss renewable energy

This comes after Xcel Energy announced it is going to be developing four new wind farms – three in Minnesota, one in Dickey County, North Dakota. In a news release, Xcel said it would save customers “hundreds of millions of dollars” in energy costs over the next 20 years.

"I didn't know about this until I saw the press release," said Commissioner Brian Kalk. He said Xcel has not yet filed a wind farm permit application with the PSC.

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