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Zoning Commission approves Rhame wind farm permit

BOWMAN -- The Bowman County Planning and Zoning Commission approved a conditional use permit for land near Rhame to be used for a Montana-Dakota Utilities wind farm at its regular meeting Tuesday.

Approximately five people were in attendance for the meeting.

The wind farm, made up of 13 wind turbines would generate 19.5 megawatts, enough energy to power between 4,600 and 5,800 homes for a year.

Darcy Neigum with MDU said they hope to start principal construction on the wind farm in the summer with the project and they looked to have it completed by the end of the year.

Brian Ulberg with MDU said the speed of construction depends on certain factors, including weather.

"They usually work on several (turbines) at the same time," Ulberg said. "They can have one up in a day, if the weather is right."

The project will be similar to one completed near Baker, Mont., recently, Neigum said. In fact, during the construction of the Rhame wind farm, seven additional turbines are planned to be added near Baker.

Neigum and Ulberg said there are currently no plans to expand the Rhame farm beyond 13 turbines in the near future, but that doesn't mean it won't happen.

The commission approved the conditional use permit with the provision that any expansion of the wind farm be brought for review to the planning and zoning commission.

When asked about what happens when the turbines break down or wear out, Ulberg said removing the turbines is MDU's responsibility.

"It's ours, we take care of it. We remove it," Ulberg said. "That's spelled out in the land lease we have."