The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved the construction of the Dakota Range III wind energy facility and transmission line, which will be built in Grant and Roberts counties.
The decision allows Dakota Range III, an Apex Clean Energy project, to move forward with plans to erect up to 42 wind turbines capable of collectively generating up to 151.2 MW of energy. The company will also build a 345 kV transmission line running 8 miles long.
In December, Apex Clean Energy announced the execution of a power purchase agreement with Xcel Energy for Dakota Range Wind III and the sale of the project to an affiliate of ENGIE North America.
The new settlement stipulation accepted by the commission includes 42 conditions Dakota Range must meet during the construction, reclamation, operation and potential decommissioning of the project. Noise levels, turbine blade ice detection, aircraft detection lighting and shadow flicker are among the details the conditions address.
“I applaud the efficiency of the commission staff working with Dakota Range to vet, analyze and negotiate the myriad components of this docket,” says Gary Hanson, PUC chairman. “There were no formal opponents to this project, so we did not have a contested-case evidentiary hearing. Those hearings significantly impact the activity required during the statutory six-month timeline for the PUC to decide wind energy cases.”
Dakota Range filed its wind energy facility and transmission application with the PUC on Oct. 26, 2018. The PUC held a public input hearing in Summit on Dec. 19.
Chris Nelson, the PUC’s vice chairman, reflects on the local participation at the input hearing: “I greatly appreciated the citizens of this area who spoke at our public input meeting regarding their views of how this wind farm will impact their community. Citizen input helped move this application process to the conclusion we have today.”
Commissioner Kristie Fiegen notes Dakota Range’s preliminary informational efforts at the local level: “Your team did a phenomenal job of making sure people within the project’s footprint were aware of the project. I appreciate that you placed a priority on keeping the community informed.”
Dakota Range expects the wind facility to be in service the end of 2020. The company estimates the total cost of the project to be approximately $200 million.
The facility represents the third installment of a four-phase wind project in northeastern South Dakota. Xcel Energy owns the Dakota Range Wind I and II projects.