NextEra Gets Green Light For South Dakota Wind Project

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The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) recently approved a permit, with conditions, for the construction of the Crowned Ridge Wind Farm.

The wind farm will cover 53,186 acres in Grant and Codington counties in northeastern South Dakota. The project is owned by Crowned Ridge Wind LLC, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources LLC.

Comprising 130 wind turbines, the project will produce up to 300 MW of energy. Northern States Power Co., doing business as Xcel Energy, will purchase the energy.

Crowned Ridge Wind filed its application with the PUC on Jan. 30, 2019, launching a statutory six-month review period that included a public input hearing in Waverly in March and an evidentiary hearing in Pierre in June.

The 2019 legislature revised the law, extending the review period to nine months for wind energy permit applications filed with the commission after July 1, 2019.

Among the 46 conditions the PUC placed on the permit are those that address sound levels and shadow flicker experienced by nearby residences, detecting ice on turbine blades, monitoring grouse leks within the area once construction is complete, and funding the removal of the facilities (i.e., decommissioning).

“I truly believe that through the conditions we specified today, we came up with a good product,” said Gary Hanson, PUC chairman. “We go through this process following the evidence that has been presented and making certain we follow the law. We have to base our decision on evidence, not our feelings.”

NextEra estimates that the wind farm will cost $400 million and expects it to be completed by 2020. This project is separate from the Crowned Ridge II wind farm, for which an application is expected to be filed with the PUC. The commission will have nine months to process that application, pursuant to the new law, which took effect July 1.

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