Weather Forecast


Wind project is slated for southwest North Dakota

FARGO -- Crownbutte Wind Power plans a 200-megawatt wind farm in southwest North Dakota under a proposal that ties the largest projects contemplated among a flurry of developments taking shape.

The firm, based in Mandan, sent a letter to the North Dakota Public Service Commission this week announcing its intent to start building the project north of Gascoyne late next year.

Crownbutte has lease agreements with landowners for more than 16,000 acres for the project, located three miles from a big power transmission line owned by Montana-Dakota Utilities.

"That was a key factor in choosing that location," Ryan Fegley, Crownbutte project manager, said Wednesday.

Another factor was the landscape, hilly terrain with elevations above 3,000 feet, which Fegley said will boost the efficiency of the turbines.

Crownbutte's Gascoyne II wind park would include 134 turbines, each with a capacity of 1.5 megawatts for a total of 200 megawatts. The turbine fields would be located in adjoining Bowman and Adams counties.

If approved, the project would equal the recently announced Ashtabula wind farm, a proposed 200-megawatt wind complex in Barnes County under development by FPL Energy.

The Langdon wind project in Cavalier County, in two phases, is almost as large, with a combined 199 megawatts.

Those big projects are among an estimated 1,256.5 megawatts of North Dakota wind projects that have been built, are under construction or are in development, according to a tally kept by the Public Service Commission.

"We're all of a sudden expanding really big-time here," said Jerry Lein, a public utility analyst. "Frankly, I'm hearing there's more out there."

Crownbutte also is developing a smaller adjacent wind farm, Gascoyne I, with a partner Fegley declined to name. That project, which doesn't need PSC siting approval, is 20 megawatts, he said.

Crownbutte, formed in 1999, has been involved in several smaller wind projects, in South Dakota and Montana, Fegley said. "Normally, we focus on smaller projects."

Along with the 150-megawatt Luverne wind farm by M-Power, in Griggs and Steele counties, Gascoyne is one of the few "homegrown" wind developers active in North Dakota.

The timetable for the 200-megawatt Gascoyne project calls for construction to begin in the third quarter of 2009, with completion early in 2010. Crownbutte is asking for a siting application by March 14.

The Forum and The Dickinson Press are both owned by Forum Communications Co.