The area north of a Williams County oil town is on track to seeing some diversification next year with the approval of a large wind energy project by the state’s utility regulatory board.
A 150-megawatt wind energy project was given a thumbs-up Wednesday by the North Dakota Public Service Commission.
Commissioner Brian Kalk said the project is to be constructed by Lindahl Wind Project LLC, which is affiliated with Lenexa, Kan.-based Tradewind Energy Inc.
Located 4 miles north of Tioga, up to 75 wind turbines are planned to be constructed within a 13,000-acre project area. Kalk said the wind turbines used will range from 2 megawatts to 3.3 megawatts.
“As we look at growth, I think you look at where there’s good transmission connections,” said Kalk, who added that transmission infrastructure near the project site was a major plus.
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On Tradewind Energy’s website, it outlines the project, saying the energy produced is to be sold to Basin Electric Power Cooperative. More information on the project is available by visiting tradewindenergy.com/project/lindahl/.
Construction is expected to start in early 2016 and be completed by the end of the year. The estimated cost of the project is $248.5 million.
Kalk said the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission and Tioga Airport Authority had initially expressed concerns about potential impacts on airspace near the Tioga Municipal Airport. He said the Lindahl Wind Project LLC intends on following all Federal Aviation Administration guidelines relating to wind energy farms near airports.
The project originally had been located 2 miles north of Tioga. It was moved to 4 miles away after city officials voiced concerns about the future growth of the city to the north being impacted by a wind farm that close.
Tioga City Commission President Drake McClelland said he appreciated the project being moved further north but expressed concern it could still impact future city growth to the north, which is where single-family housing would work best.
“It’s nice to see green energy, (something) other than oil in the area. But is it the right place? I don’t know,” McClelland said.
There may be a modest economic boost during construction but that’s about it in terms of benefits, according to McClelland, who expects to hear some complaints about the project during construction but those will likely go away as with other local energy-related projects.
“Growth. It happens,” McClelland said.
One other area Kalk commended Lindahl Wind Project LLC for its proactive step in doing a study on whether there were any bald eagle’s nests near the project area. This had been a concern prior to the November approval of a wind farm in Rolette County.
“I think that was a good response to that,” Kalk said, adding that the Rolette County concerns may prompt other companies to be proactive on the bald eagle issue.
Kalk said there were no bald eagle nests within 20 miles of the project area.
(Reach Nick Smith at 701-250-8255 or 701-223-8482 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.)