The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved the construction permit for Prevailing Wind Park, a 219.6-MW wind energy facility in Bon Homme, Charles Mix and Hutchinson counties in southeastern South Dakota. The action came at an ad hoc commiPUC staff.
Prevailing Winds proposed more than 40 conditions that address issues such as road conditions during construction, cultural resources, assignment of a public liaison officer, and land restoration after construction, among other conditions. The Commission delved deep into discussion on several other proposed conditions, making changes to those dealing with shadow flicker, sound level, avian mortality and decommissioning. The final order is expected to be issued by the end of November.
Prevailing Wind Park will include up to 61 wind turbines in a 50,364-acre area. Other components of the project will include access roads, underground collector lines, an operation and maintenance facility and four permanent meteorological towers.
PUC Chairperson Kristie Fiegen noted the commission and staff were faced with a stiff task, processing the complicated construction permit request in six months and giving full weight to the varied considerations of all parties. “It’s not easy to strike a balance between the needs and wants of area landowners and the wind industry. In the end, I believe we followed state statute and the authority given to the PUC by the state legislature,” she concluded.
Commissioner Chris Nelson also spoke to the commission’s authority in granting the permit with conditions. “It is important to understand that the commission has to base its decision on what has been presented in the record during these last six months and what the state law allows us to do. Considering that criteria, we have appropriately integrated competing interests,” Nelson said.
Prevailing Wind Park filed its application with the PUC on May 30, 2018. A public input hearing was held in Avon in July. An evidentiary hearing was held in Pierre in October. Parties to the docket included Prevailing Wind Park, PUC staff and eight intervenors. Intervenors Gregg and Marsha Hubner of Avon, Paul and Lisa Schoenfelder of Wagner, Sherman Fuerniss of Delmont, Karen Jenkins of Tripp and Kelli Pazour of Wagner were active participants at the formal hearing and related proceedings.
The Prevailing Wind Park docket can be viewed on the PUC’s website, Commission Actions, Commission Dockets, Electric Dockets, 2018 Electric Dockets, EL18-026 – In the Matter of the Application by Prevailing Wind Park, LLC for a Permit of a Wind Energy Facility in Bon Homme County, Charles Mix County and Hutchinson County, South Dakota, for the Prevailing Wind Park Project.
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