PUC gives wind project construction permit

PIERRE – The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission voted Tuesday to approve the construction of the Tatanka Ridge Wind Project in Deuel County. 

The decision allows Tatanka Ridge to move forward with plans to construct a wind energy facility capable of generating up to 155 megawatts of energy near the towns of Toronto and Brandt.

A settlement agreement presented by Tatanka Ridge and PUC staff was previously accepted by the commission in October. Issues not addressed in the settlement – funding for decommissioning, risk associated with ice throw, cumulative sound impacts, and the potential impacts to whooping cranes – were presented at an evidentiary hearing in Pierre on Nov. 4. The commission’s action this week was to rule on those issues and determine if a permit should be granted.

“I appreciate the work that staff and the applicant have done,” PUC Chairman Gary Hanson said. “The conditions both parties have brought us today, in conjunction with the settlement stipulation we previously approved, have cleared up most issues and resolved my concerns. I thank the parties for working together and accomplishing as much as they did. Good work.”

The proposed wind project will span a 27,900-acre project area and include up to 56 wind turbines. Other components of the project will include access roads, above/underground electrical collector lines, communication systems, a collection substation, one permanent meteorological tower, a less than half-mile long 345-kV gen-tie transmission line, and an operations and maintenance facility.

“It’s apparent to me that the applicant has made their case that, under state law, they are entitled to a permit to construct this facility. The conditions being proposed are consistent with what we’ve done in past dockets and they ensure that landowners and the folks in that area are appropriately taken care of,” PUC Vice Chairman Chris Nelson said.

Tatanka Ridge’s permit will include over 40 conditions that must be adhered to during the construction and operation of the project. Ice throw, land restoration, sound level, shadow flicker, the potential impacts to whooping cranes and future decommissioning of the project are all among the details the conditions address.

“I appreciated the public input meeting that we had and the concerns that people brought to us. Although we didn’t have intervenors, the applicant and staff worked hard to address the concerns of commissioners,” Commissioner Kristie Fiegen said. “I’m pleased to see the company make these efforts and know they will help protect South Dakota citizens.”

Tatanka Ridge Wind filed its application with the PUC on June 17, 2019. The PUC held a public input meeting in Toronto on Aug. 7.

The company expects to complete construction on the $216 million project in 2020. Tatanka Ridge has entered into agreements with two buyers for the electricity produced by the project, one with Google for 98 megawatts and one with Dairyland Power Cooperative for the balance. 

The Tatanka Ridge Wind Project docket can be viewed on the PUC’s website at www.puc.sd.gov, Commission Actions, Electric Dockets, 2019 Electric Dockets, EL19-026 – In the Matter of the Application by Tatanka Ridge Wind, LLC for a Permit of a Wind Energy Facility in Deuel County, South Dakota.


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