The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved the construction permit for Sweetland Wind Farm, a wind energy facility capable of producing approximately 200 MW of energy near Miller, South Dakota. The Sweetland Wind Farm project will span a 20,979-acre area in Hand County and include up to 71 wind turbines.
Other components of the project will include a five-mile, 230-kV generation tie-in transmission facility, access roads, an operations and maintenance facility, up to four meteorological towers, underground 34.5-kV electrical collector lines, underground fiber optic cable, a collection substation, a switchyard and additional temporary construction areas.
“The swiftness of this wind docket is abnormal,” commented PUC Chairman Gary Hanson. “Usually meeting the six-month deadline, especially with so many wind farm dockets before us, is challenging. Each issue and concern must be explored in the interest of protecting consumers and the citizens of South Dakota.”
The commission discussed and voted on 45 conditions to be imposed on the permit at the PUC’s regular meeting in Pierre on July 25. Aircraft detection lighting, avian and bat mortality, land restoration, decommissioning, noise level and shadow flicker are among the issues addressed in the conditions. A specific setback requirement for the land of intervenor Theresa Lichty, established through negotiations between Lichty and the company, was also included.
“The absence of opposition, strong local support and community’s experience with wind farms are reflected in the swiftness of this proceeding,” added Hanson.
Sweetland Wind Farm filed its application with the PUC on March 6, 2019. At the time, state law required the commission to make a decision within six months of receiving a wind energy facility application. A public input meeting was held in Miller in April. Parties to the docket included Sweetland, PUC staff and Intervenor Theresa Lichty. On July 11, 2019, a settlement agreement between the applicant and Lichty was approved by the commission and the terms of that agreement were incorporated in the conditions of the permit.
“The Sweetland project is the beneficiary of community support. Concerns expressed were generally resolved by Sweetland, an intervenor and PUC staff without the need for a lengthy hearing process. I am pleased to note the standards set to address public interest concerns in other siting dockets are also prevalent in our approval of this siting docket,” said Commissioner Kristie Fiegen.
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