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Published May 28, 2009, 06:51 AM

Minot-area wind farm proposed

Basin Electric Power Cooperative is seeking approval from the state Public Service Commission for 77 wind turbines south of Minot. Commissioners say the Air Force and other federal agencies also are involved.

MINOT (AP) — Basin Electric Power Cooperative is seeking approval from the state Public Service Commission for 77 wind turbines south of Minot. Commissioners say the Air Force and other federal agencies also are involved.

The new project, estimated to cost about $240 million, is near two Basin wind turbines built earlier.

“Those were the first two wind towers we built in North Dakota,” Basin spokesman Floyd Robb said at a public hearing on the project Tuesday in Minot.

“We had not operated wind before, so we did have a learning curve. But I think we have it under control now and that’s why we’re moving forward on this project,” Robb said.

Public Service Commissioner Tony Clark said Basin plans to submit more information before the commission makes its decision.

The project also requires a federal environmental assessment, Clark said.

One missile launch facility operated by the Minot Air Force Base is in the area of Basin’s project, Clark said.

“We didn’t hear anything at the meeting to indicate there was a problem,” he said. “We did request some additional information.”

Clark said the PSC has been in contact with base officials about energy development generally.

“We don’t want energy development to harm the mission of the Minot Air Force Base,” he said.

Wildlife officials said the Basin project could affect such migratory birds as the whooping crane and piping plover and on the Dakota skipper butterfly and the gray wolf. Clark said Basin has been working on plans for habitat and training to help workers identify endangered birds and other wildlife.

The co-op says it will plant twice as many shrubs or trees as are removed during construction, something Clark said is typical in state siting cases.

Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer said the commission has been busy dealing with plans for wind farms, oil pipelines and electrical transmission lines.

“We have about $12 billion worth of wind projects in front of us at some point in the regulatory process,” Cramer said. “We have a half billion dollars worth of oil pipelines. We have a half billion dollars worth of transmission lines in front of us. We have about 52 siting cases. To put that in perspective, two years ago we had 16. Two years before that, we had a handful.”

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