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Otter Tail Power’s North Dakota residential customers will see an extra charge on their monthly bills next month.

For an average customer, it will be $4.01.

The reason: It was the method approved by the North Dakota Public Service Commission to take into account the Production Tax Credit for the Merricourt Wind Farm, and to even out the charges.

New wind farm rules could mean they're quieter

Mar 20, 2020

New rules could mean new wind farms in North Dakota will be a little quieter.

The Public Service Commission’s current rules allow the acceptable sound levels from a wind farm to be 50 decibels at a distance of 100 feet from an occupied residence. The new rule would lower that level to 45 decibels.

"The reality is, noise is one of the complaints about wind," said Commissioner Julie Fedorchak. "And it's one of the complaints we get, and it's a complaint local people get about wind farms."

PSC rejects siting permit for the Ruso Wind Project

Mar 5, 2020
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

On a 2 to 1 vote, the North Dakota Public Service Commission failed to approve the siting application for a wind farm in Ward and McLean Counties.

The issue for the proposed Ruso Wind Project was the so called “Aircraft Detection Lighting System.” It was permitted after June 6th, 2016 – and that means it would have to have a system that didn’t have the constant, blinking red lights on the turbine towers, but would turn on lights when it detected an aircraft nearby. And that law gave the PSC no authority to issue waivers.

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.

The Public Service Commission is still working through some issues regarding a proposed 205 megawatt wind farm in northern McLean County.

The Ruso wind farm would have 60 to 63 turbines.

The issue is the new light mitigating technology. It would use radar to detect planes in the area of the wind farm, to turn on lights.  State law says wind farms permitted after June of 2016 have to have that technology.

But Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said the Ruso case is different.

Three of six wind power projects in North Dakota permitted after June of 2018 that did not meet a December 31st deadline to have new turbine tower lighting systems installed now say they're in compliance.

They are Oliver Wind, and Brady Wind One and Two.

Those systems would use radar technology, to turn the lights on when an aircraft approaches. Some residents living in the vicinity of wind farms objected to the blinking red lights common to 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."

Construction has begun on a 299 megawatt wind farm in Williams and Mountrail Counties.

The Aurora wind farm is expected to be up and running by the end of 2020. It’s being developed by Enel Green Power. The company is building it near its existing Lindahl wind farm, a 150 megawatt facility that began operating in 2017.

"We have had a good experience from the Lindahl project," said Enel senior project manager Georg Becker-Birck. "And there is continued strong interest from the area."

Becker-Birck said it is an area with a strong wind resource.

What to do with used wind turbine blades

Nov 12, 2019

As wind power companies look to upgrade their facilities, and as turbine blades start wearing out, there is a question: Where to dispose of the old blades?

North Dakota Public Service Commission chairman Brian Kroshus said there are roughly 1750 turbine blades in use right now in the state.

"If you add up the weight of the fiberglass material, in terms of the blades, it's just over 26 million tons of fiberglass waste," Kroshus said.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A Duluth-based energy company threw a party today (Tuesday) in Glen Ullin, to celebrate the impending opening of a new wind farm in Morton and Mercer counties.

The Glen Ullin Wind Center is to go on-line in October.

“It’s 106 megawatts," said Allete vice president for business development. "In addition to the 500 megawatts the company built at the Bison Wind Farm, that means nearly $1 billion of investment in the area.”                           

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