Wind energy will continue to face challenges

A lthough NextEra Energy Resources asserts the project might eventually be revived, it was none-the-less curious that the company recently tabled a proposed wind farm project for which it had conducted wind monitoring in and near the gooseneck of Ward County as well as in Mountrail and Renville counties.

NextEra had acquired the former Hartland project, so there was obvious intent to proceed. The company also had initiated lease opportunities with landowners.

What’s curious about the announcement is there has been considerable wind energy generating investment in recent history. NextEra has been working in North Dakota for almost two decades. Also it has invested $2.5 billion in the state and operates 14 projects. The PSC in February approved another NextEra project in Emmons and Logan counties. Why the hesitation now?

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2018, 6.6 % of the nation’s electricity was generated from wind, but that number is increasing. The same source asserts that in 2018 the total solar contribution was 1.6 %, by comparison.

NextEra has not given up on its proposed Burke County Wind Energy Center, despite delays being worked out with state authorities in regard to concerns about migratory birds. NextEra did not announce the reason for tabling the project that was likely to include part of Ward County.

Minot Daily News believes that wind energy development faces numerous challenges. It requires a great deal of infrastructure, is dependent on weather conditions, critics – rightly or wrongly – believe the wind industry is over-“subsidized” by the government, many people find wind turbines unattractive or damaging to property values, and then there are environmental concerns. Concern about the impact on fauna is nothing new. There is some irony in that environmental activists are some of the most vocal supporters of wind energy and at the same time, environmentalists have also stalled, stopped or forced expensive major changes to wind farm plans. Yes, many of those concerns might be perfectly reasonable, but balancing wind energy projects and those concerns is a serious challenge.

MDN advises wind energy advocates to be patient while these challenges are addressed – and while the potential and potential cost is better evaluated.

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