Drive through the upper plains in any direction and sooner or later you will come upon those monster wind turbines that tower through farm land. Another wind farm has just received approval from the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Prevailing Wind Park will include up to 61 wind turbines in a 50,364-acre area.

The PUC has approved, with conditions, the construction permit for Prevailing Wind Park, a 219.6-megawatt wind energy facility in Bon Homme, Charles Mix and Hutchinson counties in southeastern South Dakota. However, there are many stipulations that come with the permit approval.

PUC staff and 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 commission’s order with the conditions is expected to be issued by the end of November.

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 saying, “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.

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