Tatanka Wind faces probe over moved linesBISMARCK — The North Dakota Public Service Commission is looking into whether it should penalize the owner of an Ashley wind farm for changing locations of transmission line towers without approval.
By: Janell Cole, N.D. Capitol Bureau
BISMARCK — The North Dakota Public Service Commission is looking into whether it should penalize the owner of an Ashley wind farm for changing locations of transmission line towers without approval.
Tatanka Wind Power LLC, which is building a 180-megawatt wind farm on the North Dakota-South Dakota border, got a PSC permit for placement of transmission line towers last year. The transmission line is in North Dakota.
But last month, the company’s consultant, Ronald Peterson of Minneapolis, notified the PSC that “a number of field modifications were made to structures…to further reduce environmental impacts or to address landowner requests. Unfortunately, these changes were not adequately communicated” to the PSC.
“For those omissions, we sincerely apologize to the PSC and the commission staff,” Peterson wrote.
A commission order allowing tower placements is specific about locations and any changes must be OK’d after a special hearing. Commissioner Susan Wefald noted Wednesday that last week, the PSC approved tower placement changes of as little as 20 feet for a Cass County portion of a Minnkota Power Cooperative transmission line.
Commissioners asked their staff Wednesday to investigate the Tatanka case and bring them more information in two weeks so they can decide if a violation has occurred.
“I was a little taken aback by the changes that were made,” Commissioner Tony Clark said.
Eric Schneider, marketing director for Acciona Energy North America, which owns Tatanka Wind Power LLC, said the company would cooperate with the PSC and believed it had met the commission’s order setting the placements.
“We believe they were put up in those parameters for this project,” he said. “Rules are rules and we need to follow the processes.”
The wind farm is not yet operational, Schneider said. The turbines are installed but are still being worked on. The transmission line is finished.
Janell Cole works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Dickinson Press.