Wind farms seek extensions to deadline for light mitigation

Deadline on light mitigation looms

File Photo PrairieWinds ND1 turbines rise from the prairie south of Minot. Basin Electric is seeking a waiver to state-required light-mitigation technology for the wind farm.

Several North Dakota wind facilities are asking for more time to meet a deadline in state law that requires them to have functioning light-mitigating technology by the end of this year.

The law requires wind farms sited before June 2016 to have functioning technology in place by the end of this year. Wind farms sited since June 2016 were required to have the technology by the end of 2019.

Light-mitigating technology includes aircraft detection lighting and light intensity dimming at night while maintaining enough light to assist aircraft in avoiding collisions.

The 2021 Legislature approved a bill allowing the PSC to grant a waiver or extension of time based on technical or economic feasibility considerations.

Basin Electric Power Cooperative has requested a waiver for PrairieWinds ND1, south of Minot. Basin Electric stated the U.S. Air Force has indicated that technology that automatically adjusts lighting to the presence of aircraft would jeopardize flight safety and security in and around intercontinental ballistic missile complexes.

Commissioned in 2009, PrairieWinds consists of 77 turbines capable of producing 120 megawatts.

Of the 24 facilities that are under this year’s deadline, seven have implemented the technology. They include Capital Power’s New Frontier Meadowlark Wind, a 29-turbine, 99-megawatt facility commissioned in 2018 in McHenry County.

Four additional wind farms expect to have the technology in place by year’s end. They include Lindahl Wind, a 75-turbine facility that was completed by Enel in Williams County in 2016. It has capacity to produce 150 megawatts to supply Basin Electric.

Eight facilities have requested extensions, including Rugby Wind and NSP Border Winds.

A public hearing is set for Dec. 17 on Rugby Wind’s request for a five-month extension to May 31.

Operated by Avangrid Renewables, Rugby Wind includes 71 wind turbines generating 149 megawatts of electricity. The facility has been in operation since construction was completed in December 2009.

Border Winds has requested an extension to June 30, 2022. The wind farm came online in Rolette County in 2017. The 75 turbines can generate 150 megawatts of electricity.

The PSC has granted one-year extensions to two other facilities and a waiver for the Lake Region State College turbine in Devils Lake.

According to the PSC, seven newer wind facilities implemented the light mitigation technology by approximately Dec. 31, 2019, including Aurora Wind in Williams and Mountrail counties and Northern Divide in Burke County.

Northern Divide has 74 wind turbines and the capacity to generate about 200 megawatts of wind energy for Basin Electric. It is a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources.

Aurora Wind, a project of Enel Green Power, is a 1.3-terrawatt facility, with 71 turbines that went into operation a year ago to generate power for Basin Electric and Gap, Inc.

Velva Windfarm in McHenry County is not subject to the state law, which applies only to wind farms for which the PSC issued a certificate of site compatibility. Velva Windfarm, commissioned in 2005, didn’t use that siting process. The facility has 18 turbines capable of producing 12 megawatts of electricity.

Rugby Wind seeks extension to meet rule

RUGBY — The North Dakota Public Service Commission will hold a hearing Dec. 17 at 11 a.m. in Bismarck on Rugby Wind’s request for an extension to the Dec. 31 deadline for installing light mitigating technology.

The public can view the hearing electronically at https://psc.nd.gov/public/meetings/live.php or listen by calling 888-585-9008, with room code 671-872-185. People may provide remote input by calling 328-4081 before the meeting to be placed on a callback list during the meeting.

Written public input can be submitted from Dec. 17-23 at ndpsc@nd.gov or Public Service Commission, 600 E. Boulevard Ave., Dept. 408, Bismarck, ND 58505-0480.


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