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Wind developer plans to add 170 megawatts

BISMARCK (AP) -- North Dakota's leading wind power developer intends to spend $300 million this year installing another 170 megawatts of generating capacity near two existing wind projects, the company's chief executive says.

"This is one of the best places to go," said Mitch Davidson, chief executive officer of NextEra Energy Resources of Juno Beach, Fla., which recently changed its name from FPL Energy.

Davidson spoke Thursday at a state Capitol ceremony at which Gov. John Hoeven signed three measures that extend and improve sales, property and income tax breaks for wind power developers.

This year, NextEra intends to add 49.5 megawatts to the company's existing Wilton wind farm in northern Burleigh County, north of Bismarck, and 120 megawatts to its Ashtabula project north of Valley City in eastern North Dakota. The turbines will be in Griggs and Steele counties, Davidson said.

North Dakota has about 714 megawatts of operating wind power capacity. NextEra developed more than 600 megawatts and owns about 516 megawatts. The company's projects are in eastern, southeastern and south-central North Dakota.

NextEra has invested more than $1 billion in North Dakota wind energy projects, and the company does not intend to stop there, Davidson said.

Sen. Curtis Olafson, R-Edinburg, and the House speaker, Rep. David Monson, R-Osnabrock, said a NextEra wind project near Langdon has made an impact in northeastern North Dakota.

Cavalier County is getting $191,000 in property tax revenue from the project, while the Langdon school district is receiving $271,000, Olafson said.

Monson said when he drives down Osnabrock's main street, he sees three wind towers about five miles away, "perfectly lined up with Main Street."

"They are beautiful," Monson said.