PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission approved a permit with numerous conditions for the construction of the Dakota Range Wind Project, a wind energy facility in Grant and Codington counties capable of producing up to 302.4 megawatts of electricity.
The project is expected to include up to 72 turbines and associated facilities located within an approximately 44,500-acre project area 10 miles northeast of Watertown, South Dakota. Dakota Range expects to complete the $380 million facility in 2021.
The commission discussed and voted on the conditions to be imposed on the permit at a July 10 ad hoc meeting in Pierre. Aircraft detection lighting, detecting and reacting to ice conditions on turbine blades, and avian mortality monitoring are among issues addressed in the 42 conditions.
“As commissioners in a quasi-judicial role, we are bound to follow what is spelled out before us in state law and to base our decision on facts and evidence,” PUC Chairperson Kristie Fiegen explained. “The conditions we arrived at address landowner protections and the applicant’s obligations,” she said.
PUC Vice Chairman Gary Hanson stated: “The comprehensive conditions we imposed on the permit will ensure the facility is built and operated in a manner that is responsible and fair to all parties as well as the environment.”
“State law lays out the criteria in which a permit must be granted. I believe this project has met that burden,” Commissioner Chris Nelson said. “I extend my thanks to the PUC staff, intervenors and Dakota Range for the information provided to the commission during this process.”
Dakota Range filed its application with the PUC on Jan. 24, 2018. State law requires the commission to make a decision within six months of receiving a wind energy facility application. A public input hearing was held in Waverly in March. An evidentiary hearing was held in Pierre in June. Parties to the docket included Dakota Range, PUC staff and 12 intervenors. Intervenors Kristi Mogen of Twin Brooks and Teresa Kaaz of South Shore were active participants, representing themselves at the formal hearing and related proceedings.
The Dakota Range Wind Project docket can be viewed on the PUC’s website at www.puc.sd.gov, Commission Actions, Electric Dockets, 2018 Electric Dockets, EL18-003 – In the Matter of the Application by Dakota Range I, LLC and Dakota Range II, LLC for a Permit of a Wind Energy Facility in Grant County and Codington County, South Dakota, for the Dakota Range Wind Project.
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