Siting permit for proposed Burke County wind farm denied by PSC

BISMARCK, N.D. – The North Dakota Public Service Commission has voted to deny a siting permit for a proposed wind farm in Burke County, citing concerns over the project’s environmental impact.

In what may be a landmark decision regarding energy projects, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve a motion that would deny the permit at a meeting Wednesday morning in the Capitol.

Commission Chairman Brian Kroshus confirmed the news with Your News Leader.

The plan called for a 76-turbine wind farm, along with a 37-mile-long transmission line that would transport energy to a substation in Mountrail County.

The plan was put forward by Burke Wind, LLC, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, Inc.

The PSC held a public hearing on the matter March 8 in Bowbells, where residents voiced opinions for and against the project.

Kroshus said the commissioners reach out to several state and federal agencies for their thoughts on the project, and their feedback ultimately led to the commissioners’ decision.

A report from North Dakota Game and Fish in March details concerns from the department over the projects “potential negative impacts to prairie and wetland wildlife species.”

“The primary reason were concerns voiced by both U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. They were cited as saying there could not be a worse location to place the facility,” said Kroshus.

Kroshus, who has served on the PSC for just over two years, said he believes this is the first time the commissioners have turned down such a permit.

NextEra released the following statement on the decision:

We believe we have adequately mitigated for the environmental impacts of this project and we hope to have the opportunity for reconsideration.

Kroshus said the company could appeal the PSC’s decision or move the project to a different footprint and present it again to the commissioners.