PSC approves $390 million wind farm

Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 5:54 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - A $390 million wind farm is a ‘go’ in south central North Dakota.

The wind farm will consist of 74 turbines and generate 250 megawatts, which is enough to power 70,000 homes. And there was some disagreement amongst commissioners about whether to approve the project.

Commissioner Julie Fedorchak says she empathizes with representatives from the coal industry who testified in opposition to the siting application, especially as it relates to what she called the rapid pace of thermal retirements. However, she says the evidence they provided wasn’t specific to this project, and in fact the issues are beyond the purview of the PSC.

“Their concerns primarily involve policy decisions at the federal or multistate level creating an unfair marketplace. There was no hard evidence indicating what effect this particular project will have on the areas of concern,” said Julie Fedorchak.

The vote wasn’t unanimous, however. Commissioner Randy Christmann voted against approving the siting application, due to an already-congested transmission network in that area.

“Basically, what happens is you get into these congestion areas like that, and there’s just not enough ability for the transmission lines to flow all the electricity that wants to go through there to where it’s needed,” said Christmann.

As a result of approving the wind farm application and adding 250 megawatts to the grid, Christmann says more transmission infrastructure will need to be built, which he says would cost rate payers money.

Commissioner Fedorchak says they don’t have enough information to determine if adding the wind farm will impact rates. Of course, it’s possible Orsted Onshore North America could choose not to build for some reason, but their plans are to complete the wind farm by October of next year.