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PSC could vote on Brady Wind II next month

The North Dakota Public Service Commission could vote on the 72-turbine Brady Wind Energy Center II project proposed for northern Hettinger County as soon as next month.

Commissioner Brian Kalk said the PSC's first work session on Tuesday to discuss the wind farm "went very smoothly" and the commission didn't have many additional questions for representatives of Brady Wind LLC, a subsidiary of Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources.

"We had some questions and clarifications to make sure what we thought we heard on setbacks was accurate," Kalk said, listing setback requirements for occupied residences and non-participating landowners as specific points for clarification. "There was really nothing controversial that came out of yesterday's work session."

He said PSC members have asked staff to make some minor changes to a draft order to clarify the setback issues, but added the session was "kind of anticlimactic" following the extended deliberation that accompanied Brady Wind Energy Center I, the first phase of the larger project.

That first project, which is in the beginning construction stages in southern Stark County, was approved by the PSC on June 16. The $250 million Brady I project consists of 87 turbines and a 19-mile transmission line.

Though construction is now anticipated to be complete by the end of this year, the approval process proved to be contentious at times among members of the local community.

Kalk said the degree of public participation and "overall angst" surrounding Brady Wind I seemed to come from debate as to how Stark County Commission members should have made their decision to approve that initial phase. That argument was a non-starter in Brady Wind II, where the Hettinger County Commission voted unanimously to approve the project.

On the corporate end of things, Kalk said it appeared Brady Wind had anticipated the PSC's questions after that first process and had made necessary adjustments before the hearing.

With no apparent public concern and many of the core issues already squared away, Kalk said he believed the timeline for Brady II would be half that of the first phase.

"Based on what I saw yesterday in the work session, I'd anticipate putting an order forward in one of our July meetings," he said, clarifying that it was "just a vote" and not necessarily for or against Brady Wind II.

The PSC has meetings scheduled for July 6 and July 20.

Moving forward, Kalk said he believed the PSC's remaining work is "more procedural" to ensure its order has been properly examined.

"I don't really see any substantive issues that have to be worked through. I think those questions have all been answered," Kalk said. "It's just making sure we've got the final product all staffed around and reviewed, and do all those things appropriate to make sure we've got a solid order."

Andrew Haffner

Andrew Haffner covers higher education and general assignment stories for the Grand Forks Herald. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he studied journalism, political science and international studies. He previously worked at the Dickinson Press.

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