NextEra proposing new wind energy project
By Annette Tait
County Commissioners were called to a special meeting Dec. 22 to hear about a proposed wind energy project that, if approved, will extend into Oliver County.
“As of now, we’re still negotiating the final terms of the power agreement for the 100 MW project,” NextEra Project Manager Mark Trumbauer told the commission. “We’re finalizing the technology and the locations of the turbines, and looking at making an application to the county in February for the zoning permits.”
Trumbauer initially appeared before the commission at its Nov. 5 meeting, to inform commissioners of the company’s intent to build the Oliver III Wind Project in Morton County, with a substation and transmission line Oliver County. At that time, Oliver County Planning and Zoning Committee Chairman Dan Bueligen questioned why the expansion didn’t include turbines in Oliver County.
While the majority of the project remains in Morton County, NextEra was able to move four 2.1 megawatt (MW) turbines into Oliver County. The estimated value of the project in Oliver County is just more than $17 million, with approximately $7 million in the substation and $10 million in the turbines.
Surveying for the turbines is in progress, as well as confirming availability of easements. The substation site is approximately 11 miles south of the Milton R. Young Station.
“After Christmas we’ll be taking out a soil probe, to see if the soils are compatible,” Trumbauer said, explaining that, instead of taking a core for testing, the soil probe, pushes down into the soil and senses composition.
NextEra will submit its application to the North Dakota Public Service Commission in January, but doesn’t expect a response until February. The company is also working on its application to the State Historical Society to ensure there are no artifacts or historical sites in the area involved.
“You may want to know why we want the county approvals prior to going to the state,” Trumbauer told the commissioners. “The state looks at the county as a bellwether – if the county doesn’t approve it, the state will be looking at it much more closely.”