Wind farm proposed in Stark County

TAYLOR, N.D. - A wind farm could be coming to Stark County, and with it concerns on how it will affect neighboring landowners. Dickinson Wind LLC, a subsidiary of Wilton, Conn.-based NextEra Energy Resources LLC, has asked the North Dakota Public...

1598071+0319 wind farm stock.jpg
Turbines (Getty Images)

TAYLOR, N.D. - A wind farm could be coming to Stark County, and with it concerns on how it will affect neighboring landowners.

Dickinson Wind LLC, a subsidiary of Wilton, Conn.-based NextEra Energy Resources LLC, has asked the North Dakota Public Service Commission to approve up to 87 wind turbines west of Highway 8, with Interstate 94 bisecting the area.

Taylor lies within the northeastern portion of the project.

“We think that a project like Dickinson makes sense for the state economically as well as environmentally,” NextEra Energy Resources spokesman Steven Stengel said.

The project will produce 150 megawatts that Basin Electric Power Cooperative has agreed to purchase. Dickinson Wind also plans to build a 31-mile, 230-kilovolt overhead transmission line to connect the project to the Belfield-to-Rhame transmission line approximately 10 miles southwest of Dickinson. It would then transmit power into Basin Electric’s transmission system. The project will produce enough energy to power 37,500 homes, according to NextEra Energy.


The company will hold an informational meeting from 5-8 p.m. today at the Taylor-Richardton Elementary School Gymnasium in Taylor. The meeting is meant to be a forum for residents to share thoughts with the company and learn more about the project.

“We have a pretty good track record across the country of trying to work with communities to minimize impact,” Stengel said.

Dickinson Wind has signed a 30-year power purchase agreement with Basin Electric for the project. With all the energy going to the cooperative, Basin Electric is expected to expand its generation portfolio to more than 1,400 megawatts, according to the Dickinson Wind application. All energy from the wind farm will go to Basin Electric.

Dickinson Wind has identified preliminary turbine locations and has entered into agreements with landowners that are interested in having wind turbines and associated facilities placed on their property. It will build private access roads adjacent to the towers, which will be 16 feet wide. Approximately 50 vehicles will make trips each day to the site during peak construction periods.

The news of a wind farm in Stark County also comes with concerns from residents, including Gladstone Mayor Kurt Martin.

While traffic will increase, Martin said in a statement that he is concerned that the wind farm will force the value of property to go down. He estimates residents will lose at least $75 million in land value discounts.

“This does not include houses, strictly land value loss,” he wrote in the statement. “This is a real number that hits the ‘mas and pas’ throughout the area.”

Dickinson Wind is evaluating more than 39,000 acres, or 61 square miles, for the project, according to its application. While 87 turbines have been planned, an additional 11 alternate turbine locations have been included in the project layout.


Though it would be its first project in Stark County, this isn’t NextEra Energy’s first wind project in North Dakota. The company has approximately 550 wind turbines producing 850 megawatts of energy in seven counties.

“Obviously, North Dakota has a good wind resource,” Stengel said.

Martin said people have called the news of a wind farm “a nightmare, and I am using some of their own words, to find out the county is now in the process of making a decision of allowing wind towers of 430 feet that can be seen for miles adjacent to their property, along with the noise they will have to endure.” He added Stark County’s main emphasis of the last five years was to improve infrastructure and provide improved housing.

Western North Dakota has attracted migrants from other states due to the oil boom. Some have traveled to Stark County to “buy into our concept of ‘good jobs, quality of life and bring your family,’” Martin said.

“This will be a huge eye-opener to our financial institutions, which I am sure will change their approach to lending for housing in the wind farm vicinity,” he added.

NextEra Energy will locate the project in an area with few homes, businesses and structure, stating in its application that “there is no indication of any new residential construction” near the project. The wind farm would not displace residents or have significant impacts on land use, according to the application.

To avoid shadow flicker, or the shadow that a tower casts, Dickinson Wind has committed to a 2,000-foot setback from occupied residential structures. It also expects noise levels will remain under 50 decibels, though the company plans to mitigate noise if wind turbines exceed that decibel level.

The company predicts 269 employees would work on the project during peak times and create 10 permanent jobs, as well as $1.4 million in revenue for local businesses and households, including payments to landowners. The project should produce $21 million in tax revenue for Stark County and $25 million in landowner payments.


The Federal Production Tax Credit, which expired this year, would give the company an income tax credit of 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour.

NextEra Energy has purchased equipment and parts for the project, which has been discussed for several years. Because of the tax credit, the savings will transfer to Basin Electric and, ultimately, the customers, the company said.

“We’ve been working on this project … for some time,” Stengel said. “When you demonstrate continuous efforts, and when you have purchased a portion of the equipment you need for the project, if you can satisfy that, you can still qualify for production tax credit.”

Martin said he has talked with Stark County officials and he said they have assured him the county has the strictest wind tower ordinances in the state. He also has discussed the matter with PSC staff.

“The biggest concern is the county’s lack of ordinances that should be in place to protect the health, welfare and well-being of its citizens,” he said, adding he is afraid the laws will not address noise and that the regulations are in favor of the wind energy companies instead of residents.

“These are not issues unique to North Dakota; we hear these concerns across the county,” Stengel said, adding the company is confident it can work with landowners to mitigate any issues.”

NextEra Energy expects it will have all land for the project acquired in April and gain the PSC’s approval by June, when construction is set to begin. Commercial operation is expected to begin in December. Expansion is possible, though no specific schedule has been set. Dickinson Wind will file a 10-year plan with PSC for the wind farm.

“The state of North Dakota has been very supportive of wind power in the past,” Stengel said. “In this particular case, this project is going to generate a lot of emission-free energy. It’s going to create a number of construction jobs.”


A PSC meeting has been set for 9 a.m. April 24 in Dickinson.

What To Read Next
Get Local