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Hearing Rescheduled

A large crowd, many intentionally wearing red, filled the Tom Baker Room, plus two other rooms, in the City/County Building in downtown Bismarck in mid-November for a public hearing. The hearing, on a proposed wind farm, was an hour late and abruptly halted due to technical issues.

Developers of a wind farm proposed southeast of Bismarck say they’ve reduced the height of some turbines to accommodate the Bismarck Airport.

The Burleigh-Emmons Wind Farm, which is expected to attract more than 500 people for a public hearing next week, is proposed about 15 miles southeast of Bismarck and 12 to 13 miles from the airport.

Chicago-based Pure New Energy USA has worked with the Federal Aviation Administration and the airport during its planning process, which led to some wind turbines being adjusted, said Courtney Timmons, the company’s director of business development.

Bismarck Airport Director Greg Haug said airport officials evaluate any proposed tower to determine if it would have an adverse effect on the airport, including runway approaches that stretch out for miles beyond the end of the runway.

“We didn’t want to see any impacts to the approach to our runway,” Haug said.

After the company reduced some turbine heights, the FAA determined in an aeronautical study that the project would have no substantial adverse effect on air navigation.

The determination is based on the condition that the wind turbines are lighted and marked, including the red flashing lights that are required by the FAA.

Haug, who met with representative from PNE on Friday, said he continues to have questions about potential impacts to the airport surveillance radar. Timmons said the company plans to continue working with the airport to address any concerns.

The proposed 250-megawatt project will have from 65 to 75 wind turbines, depending on the final technology that’s selected for the project. The height of the wind turbines is expected to be between 450 and 570 feet tall, similar to the height or slightly taller than the turbines in the Bison 4 project in Oliver County.

The project area is about 15,000 acres in southern Burleigh County, including Morton and Telfer townships, and northern Emmons County.

The Burleigh County Planning and Zoning Commission will take public comment on the project next week in a meeting that had to be rescheduled after a large turnout overwhelmed the commission’s meeting room earlier this month. The meeting is at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Bismarck Event Center.

Bismarck Mayor Steve Bakken, who serves on the Bismarck Planning and Zoning Commission, said his focus is evaluating how the project would affect Bismarck, particularly the airport and the National Guard.

“That’s my primary concern is what any long-term effects on the city of Bismarck would be,” Bakken said.

The Planning and Zoning Commission is expected to make a recommendation to the Burleigh County Commission, which is also expected to hold its own public hearing.

The project has prompted strong reactions from both sides, with supporters advocating for the economic benefits and opponents raising concerns about visual impacts.

“No matter what the vote is, there’s going to be an appeal by either side, I’m guessing,” Bakken said. “It’s that passionate on both sides.”

If local authorities approve the project, the proposal would go to the North Dakota Public Service Commission for consideration of a siting permit.

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(Reach Amy Dalrymple at 701-250-8267 or Amy.Dalrymple@bismarcktribune.com)

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