Posted 11/08/16 (Tue)
By Kevin Killough
Another wind farm is being proposed in Williams County.
The area of the proposed project, currently being called the Aurora Wind Project by the developer, is west of the Lindahl Wind Farm, which is currently under construction.
Tradewind Energy, the company that developed the Lindahl Wind Farm, submitted applications for a conditional use permit for six meteorological towers in the planned project area.
The temporary towers are the first step to developing a full project plan, which will then require the extensive county permitting process.
“It’s in its infancy stages,” said senior development manager for Tradewind, Brice Barton.
The project area is roughly within the South Meadow township area, which is just west of the Lindahl Wind Farm.
The northern border of the proposed project area is a few miles south of Wildrose, Barton explained, and the southeast corner of the area stretches down to about the same southern borders of the Lindahl Wind Farm.
This is about four miles north of Tioga.
Barton said the company is discussing the plans with landowners in the area and held a meeting with about two dozen of them in Wildrose late last month, as part of its leasing process.
He said the reaction from the landowners was mostly positive.
A few of them didn’t want to lease their property because of existing oil and gas development on their property, Barton said, but he hasn’t received any heated opposition.
The Williams County Planning and Zoning Board will hear the permit request on Nov. 17 at its regular meeting at 6 p.m.
The meteorological towers provide data that engineers use to determine the best placement for the towers.
A number of other factors go into the final tower placement, including landowner leases, public input, and county setback requirements.
The permitting process for the Lindahl Wind Farm began with conditional use permits for three meteorological towers.
Barton said at the time the initial tower readings showed the wind resource in North Dakota was very impressive.
The Kansas-based company developed projects in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, and Iowa. It also has about 20 projects under development throughout the southern United States, New Mexico, and Colorado.
The permitting process for the Lindahl Wind Farm was met with a mixture of reactions from people in the community and those who live in the project area.
Those who opposed the project expressed concern over noise, impacts to livestock, and further encroachment of industry on the natural landscape.
Supporters, which included many landowners who wanted to profit from the leasing to the company, cited property rights of the leasing landowners and diversification of the local economy away from its two main industries, agriculture and oil.
The process culminated in a well attended public hearing by the Public Service Commission, which ultimately decided to grant the project the go ahead.
Whatever the planning and zoning board’s decision on the meteorological towers, it acts only as a recommendation to the county commission.
Before the towers can be erected, the county commission must approve the permit.
If the county approves the permits, the developer will then design a precise project plan that will be used to pursue a conditional use permit through the county for the wind farm.
With the Lindahl Wind Farm project, the planning and zoning board requested input from townships and city commissions within the project area.
Ultimately, the planning and zoning board denied the permit, but the county commission gave its approval.