UPDATED: ND Public Service Commission approves Brady Wind II permit

The North Dakota Public Service Commission has approved a sitting permit for the Brady Wind II wind farm that will sit in northern Hettinger County and southern Stark County. The Brady Wind II will be constructed by Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources.

Wind Farm File Photo (RGB)

This story has been updated since Wednesday, July 6.

By COLE BENZ
Herald Editor | cbenz@countrymedia.net

The North Dakota Public Service Commission has approved a sitting permit for the Brady Wind II wind farm that will sit in northern Hettinger County and southern Stark County. The Brady Wind II will be constructed by Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources.

The 72-turbine wind farm is going to be an estimated $250 million project and should generate an approximate 150 megawatts. The turbines will rest in Hettinger County, while underground equipment and other facilities will rest in Stark County.

After it was unanimously approved the Hettinger County Commissioners, the PSC held the public hearing in New England at the Memorial Hall. That hearing saw nearly 10 hours of testimony from lawyers, public service commissioners, NextEra Energy representatives and concerned citizens.

The project didn’t come without controversy. Much like the Brady Wind I, which was approved a few weeks ago in Stark County, groups on both sides of the issue took to the podium to voice their opinions.

One of those voices included Hettinger County resident Jon Wert, who voiced his concern about the proximity of turbines housed next to non-participating residents. Wert had a petition circulating to adjust the distance of the required setback of those turbines.

As part of the order, the PSC required the company to change the setback to 2,000 feet from inhabitant residence, which is more inline with the more restrictive zoning rules of Stark County. Also, the company has agreed to adjust the set back to “2,640 feet from the inhabited residences of all non-participating landowners and a turbine setback of 953 feet from any non-participating landowner’s property line,” according to information released by the PSC on Wednesday, July 6.

The PSC is also requiring the company to implement a new lighting system recently approved by the Federal Aviation Administration. Currently the turbines have constant blinking, red lights to alert aircrafts of their presence, but a new system called Aircraft Detection Light System (ADLS) uses radar to activate the lights only when an aircraft is flying near by to reduce light pollution. The lights would deactivate when the craft leaves the vicinity of the wind farm.

The PSC said they would like this system installed as soon as possible, but set a hard deadline on the company of Dec. 31, 2018.

“This wind facility and the Brady I project include features that are the direct result of public input, including more restrictive setbacks from non-participants in the area and a new lighting feature that will allow the facility to generate without permanently changing the area’s beautiful night sky,” said Commission Chairman Julie Fedorchak.

Other factors the PSC placed in the order included the absence of eagles nests, no significant historical sites, noise studies and the presence of on-site and company representatives for resident communication.

In the end, the PSC approved the permit. Company representatives previously told The Herald that construction would begin as soon as possible following all of the necessary approvals.

“Each wind project is unique in some way and the Commission continues to work through issues within our jurisdiction to find the best solution for each project and at the same time respecting the role of the counties in the process,” said Commissioner Brian Kalk. “As wind projects continue to come before us, we are committed to continue working with the Association of Counties to plan ahead for all types of energy development.”

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