The North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA), in cooperation with the Public Service Commission, has developed a wind energy restoration and reclamation oversight program.
The program aims to connect landowners and tenants experiencing wind energy reclamation and restoration issues with an ombudsman.
“The program fills a need for our landowners,” explains Doug Goehring, NDDA commissioner. “With more wind farms likely to be developed, we will play a role in providing assistance with education, restoration and reclamation.”
He adds, “The legislature recognized the need of landowners and tenants to resolve wind-related reclamation issues, and because of the success of the pipeline ombudsman program, NDDA became the natural place for this program. We will continue coordinating with the Public Service Commission, who also has reclamation standards and requirements built into its permitting process.”
Under the new law, a landowner or tenant who is dissatisfied by the response of a wind energy company in dealing with reclamation of their property can contact NDDA for assistance.
“An ombudsman will then conduct an on-site examination with the landowner or tenant to assess the situation,” Goehring explains. “The ombudsman will prepare a written report, contact the wind energy company detailing the findings, and work with all parties to resolve the issues in a satisfactory and timely manner.”
The program will also provide educational outreach to help landowners consider things such as location of structures, type of installation, soil impacts, type of vegetation being reestablished, timelines and other issues before signing agreements.