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PSC approves Brady Wind II in Hettinger County

A wind turbine is seen in North Dakota. (Thinkstock photo)

BISMARCK—The final chapter of the Brady Wind saga has came to an end.

The North Dakota Public Service Commission voted unanimously to approve NextEra Energy Resources project Brady Wind II in northern Hettinger County.

The 72-turbine, 150-megawatt wind farm will begin construction immediately.

Although a separate project, Brady Wind II will connect to 87-turbine Brady Wind I in southern Stark County, which was approved on June 16 by the PSC.

Both projects were met with opposition, which PSC Chairman Julie Fedorchak said she appreciated. She said that because of public input, Brady Wind II had some of the strictest setbacks the commission has seen to date.

“That’s a direct result of people in this area being engaged in the process starting at the county level,” she said. “Those folk deserve a lot of credit and I hope that they feel good that their involvement mattered and resulted in a better project for them than if they were not involved.”

During the PSC’s hearing for Brady Wind II June 7 in New England, the commission listened to more than 10 hours of statements from NextEra and the public. Around a dozen people stood before the commission to voice their opinion of the project.

While Commissioner Brian Kalk said it was a thorough hearing, he said it ran smoother than the hearing in Stark County on Brady Wind I because of preparedness. That hearing on March 31 lasted more than 15 hours -- the longest wind project hearing in state history -- because of testimony provided by NextEra, intervener group the Concerned Citizens of Stark County, as well as the general public.

Kalk attributed the Brady Wind II hearing running smoother and a decision being made faster to NextEra being much more organized and the company anticipating the commissioners’ questions.

It took the commission more than two months to render a decision on Brady Wind I because of the depth of information and late-filed exhibits from both NextEra and the Concerned Citizens of Stark County.

The PSC reached a decision on Brady Wind II in a little less than a month.

Fedorchak said the Brady Wind projects will change the standards for approving future wind development because of a new lighting system the projects will use.

NextEra, during Brady Wind II’s PSC hearing, presented a system recently approved by the the Federal Aviation Administration that would eliminate the need for the constant red blinking light on the wind towers. The lights, which Fedorchak said were a concern brought up by citizens, will only blink when an aircraft is in the vicinity. NextEra is planning on implementing the Aircraft Detection Light System in both of the Brady Wind projects.

PSC Commissioner Randy Christmann said the inclusion of the ADLS is his favorite part of the whole order.

Bryan Garner, a spokesman for NextEra, said Brady Wind II’s approval is a positive for the community.

“We are very pleased commissioners have approved this project and that citizens of Hettinger County will get to enjoy the benefits of wind, including clean energy, good jobs, and millions of dollars in landowner payments and tax benefits for schools and essential services,” he said.

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