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Morton County wind farm could be built by end of 2022

Morton County wind farm could be built by end of 2022

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NextEra Energy is hoping to begin construction of a wind farm near New Salem in two years.

Project manager Jeffrey Bryce recently updated the Morton County Commission about the work the company has done to promote the project to landowners. He also presented a projected timeline for the project.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prevented NextEra from holding in-person meetings with landowners. The company has been reaching out to landowners and holding open house meetings online. NextEra also will be sending out mailers with employee contact information for landowners who would like to learn more about the project.

It potentially will go before the county planning and zoning board and the state Public Service Commission next year, with construction beginning around 2022 and wrapping up by the end of that year.

NextEra received permission from the county in June to construct one test tower and plans to apply for a permit to build a second tower within the next few months.

Such towers, also known as meteorological towers, measure the wind conditions in an area to see if the area would be suitable for a wind farm, according to NextEra spokesman Bryan Garner.

"It's a standard and necessary step early in the development process," he told the Tribune earlier this summer. "Typically, we gather data from a met tower for at least a year, but preferably two years or longer. We won't be able to determine how many wind turbines or even whether a wind farm can be supported in the area until we are able to analyze the data."

NextEra is considering a 100,000-acre area of land for the wind farm, though the final farm size could be smaller. The project is to include up to 175 windmills and produce 500 megawatts of energy.

The New Salem wind farm is predicted to generate $75 million in landowner payments and $70 million in property taxes during a 30-year project lifespan, according to NextEra.

Reach Sam Nelson at 701-250-8264 or sam.nelson@bismarcktribune.com.

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