Second phase of North Dakota wind farm approved

Source: By John Hageman, Inforum • Posted: Tuesday, September 12, 2017

BISMARCK — The North Dakota Public Service Commission approved its final permit Wednesday, Sept. 6, for a wind farm northeast of Valley City.

The three-member commission unanimously approved a siting permit for the second phase of the Glacier Ridge Wind Farm, Chairman Randy Christmann said. In total, the PSC authorized the construction of up to 87 turbines producing 300.15 megawatts on roughly 25,000 acres. The project is estimated to cost $375 million.

The PSC issued a siting permit for the project’s first phase last year, with Christmann issuing the sole dissenting opinion. In a concurrence dated Wednesday, Christmann said last year’s vote was due to the “cumulative uncertainty involved with this application” and said he still had “serious apprehension” about the project.

“Despite that apprehension, the solution to uncertainty is not more uncertainty,” he said, noting that the developers have already begun construction “and constraining the scope of the project at this time could jeopardize this project with no clear reclamation plan in place.”

A spokesman for the project’s developer, Renewable Energy Systems Americas, said they expect to finish construction by the end of 2020. The original application, filed last year, was the largest individual wind farm permit in state history before the company sought to split it into two phases.

North Dakota has almost 3,000 megawatts of installed wind capacity, good for 11th in the United States, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak predicted phasing out the federal Production Tax Credit and flat electricity demand will slow the growth of wind energy development in North Dakota.