Hearing on Proposed Wind Farm in Stark County Causes Controversy

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A Public Service commissioner says he's never seen so much controversy to a proposed wind farm.

Next Era Energy wants to build an 87 wind turbine project about 15 miles south of Dickinson.

The testimony for and against the project lasted 15 hours.

Dickinson City Hall almost reached full capacity with 150 community members voicing their opinions on the proposed Brady Wind Farm.

"We feel it's a too densely populated area and there's too many non-participating landowners and residents effected or intruded upon versus the number of people that have benefits," said Concerned Citizens of Stark County spokesperson Tom Riechert.

Two-thirds of the landowners agreed to land easements, while one-third are non-participating within the perimeter of the project.

NextEra Energy says the wind farm is in a good location.

"It's a right mix of good wind resource so we got the right fuel, we've got landowner participation through all of our voluntarily agreements with our landowners and from an environmental standpoint," said NextEra Energy Director Jason Utton.

Working with NextEra was landowner Ruth Steier and her family's deciding factor to finalize an easement with the project.

"It's beneficial to our county and our school district, my daughter will go to school next year in Kindergarten in the New England School District and they will receive tax revenue from this project," said Steier.

NextEra says the project would provide 200 construction jobs. The company would sell the electricity generated by the wind farm to Basin Electric.

"Right now, North Dakota is in a unique situation we are trying to grapple with more development, less development, the energy industry is slowing down as far as oil and natural gas, but wind farms seem to be a lot of those coming our way so the communities where they are going to be built it's right to come and say there peace, for us(PSC) we got to figure out how to meet the energy needs of the future," said Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk.

Concerned Citizens of Stark County have mixed reviews on how this would benefit there community.

The fate of the wind farm is up in the air until the PSC makes a final decision.

NextEra Energy has about 10 wind farms in North Dakota.

Kalk says if there are no outstanding issues, the PSC could make a decision in 60 days.