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PSC looks into wind farm plan changes

State Capitol Bureau BISMARCK - The North Dakota Public Service Commission is looking into whether it should penalize the owner of an Ashley wind farm for changing locations of transmission line towers without approval. Tatanka Wind Power LLC, wh...

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State Capitol Bureau

BISMARCK - The North Dakota Public Service Commission is looking into whether it should penalize the owner of an Ashley wind farm for changing locations of transmission line towers without approval.

Tatanka Wind Power LLC, which is building a 180-megawatt wind farm on the North Dakota-South Dakota border, received a PSC permit for placement of transmission line towers last year. The transmission line is in North Dakota.

But last month, the company's consultant, Ronald Peterson of Minneapolis, notified the PSC that "a number of field modifications were made to structures ... to further reduce environmental impacts or to address landowner requests. Unfortunately, these changes were not adequately communicated" to the PSC.

A commission order allowing tower placements is specific about locations and any changes must be approved after a special hearing. Commissioner Susan Wefald noted Wednesday that the PSC approved tower placement changes last week of as little as 20 feet for a Cass County portion of a Minnkota Power Cooperative transmission line.

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Commissioners asked their staff to investigate the Tatanka case and bring them more information in two weeks so they can decide if a violation has occurred.

Eric Schneider, marketing director for Acciona Energy North America, which owns Tatanka Wind Power LLC, said the company would cooperate with the PSC and believed it had met the commission's order setting the placements.

The wind farm is not yet operational, Schneider said. The turbines are installed but are still being worked on. The transmission line is finished.

Cole works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Forum. She can be reached at (701) 224-0830 or forumcap@btinet.net

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