Public input hearing on South Dakota wind project to be held on July 12

A public input hearing on the May application for a facility permit for Prevailing Wind Park, LLC’s (Prevailing Wind Park) proposed Prevailing Wind Park Energy Facility is scheduled for July 12 in Avon, S.D., according to the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission website.

According to the application prepared by Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company, Prevailing Wind Park is proposing to develop the wind energy facility in Bon Homme, Charles Mix, and Hutchinson counties in South Dakota. The project would consist of up to 61 wind turbines, with a nameplate capacity of 219.6 MW, the application said, adding that the project area is comprised of 50,364 acres of private land between the towns of Avon, Tripp, and Wagner.

The current estimated capital cost of the project is about $297m, based on indicative construction and wind turbine pricing cost estimates, according to the application.

The application noted that project components would include:

  • Access roads to each wind turbine
  • Underground electrical power collector system and communications
  • A collector substation
  • Up to four permanent meteorological towers
  • An operations and maintenance (O&M) facility
  • Additional temporary construction areas, including crane paths, public road improvements, a laydown yard, and a concrete batch plant(s) (as needed)

The project would interconnect with the Western Area Power Administration’s (WAPA) existing Utica Junction substation, located about 27 miles east of the project. The application also noted that Prevailing Wind Park – which is a wholly owned subsidiary of sPower Development Company, LLC – is proposing to build a new 115-kV gen-tie line in Bon Homme and Yankton counties from the project collector substation to the Utica Junction substation. The gen-tie line is not under the jurisdiction of the commission and will be permitted in Bon Homme and Yankton counties, the application said.

sPower in October 2017 acquired the Prevailing Wind Park assets and development rights to the project from Prevailing Winds, LLC, (Prevailing Winds), which was formed in 2014 by the same local group of investors that successfully developed the 80-MW B&H Wind Project, which is now the Beethoven Wind Project.

Prevailing Winds in June 2016 filed an application with the commission for a 200-MW wind farm with up to 100 2.3-MW wind turbines, the application added, noting that at that time, Prevailing Winds did not have all land rights secured for the project and did not have an off-taker for the energy that would be produced. Prevailing Winds subsequently withdrew the application in August 2016, and in its motion to withdraw application without prejudice, Prevailing Winds said that it was “moving to withdraw the application to allow Prevailing Winds to better inform the community on the wind project and allow Prevailing Winds to revisit its options regarding the project.”

The application noted that since its October 2017 acquisition of the assets and development rights to the project, Prevailing Wind Park has undertaken development activities consisting of landowner outreach and easement acquisition, detailed studies of resources in the project area, coordination with resource agencies, as well as design and refinement of the project configuration.

The application also noted that Prevailing Wind Park in January entered into a 30-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with a South Dakota load serving entity, with the PPA providing that the project is to supply energy at the end of 2019.

The output from the facility, which could annually generate up to 933,116 MWh, would be used to meet the needs for South Dakota residential, commercial, and industrial customers, the application said.

WAPA is preparing an environmental assessment (EA) for the project interconnection in accordance with the applicable requirements and standards of NEPA. The application added that Prevailing Wind Park anticipates that WAPA will approve a final EA and issue a Finding of No Significant Impact in 4Q18.

Discussing potential impacts of the project, the application noted, for instance, that about 45 acres of permanent disturbance, representing less than 0.1% of the total acreage within the project area, would be broadly dispersed throughout the project area. Therefore, the project is not expected to cause major changes in storm water runoff patterns or volume of runoff, nor is it expected to have adverse impacts on existing hydrology, according to the application.

Also, the project has avoided locating facilities in wetland areas, to the extent practicable, the application said, noting that wind turbines and access roads are generally located in upland areas, avoiding low-lying wetlands and drainage ways. Based on a desktop wetland determination, the project would potentially result in permanent impacts to two wetlands and would cross three intermittent streams, the application said. Wetland and stream impacts would be authorized in compliance with the Clean Water Act, the application noted.

Eight species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act have been documented in Bon Homme, Charles Mix, and/or Hutchinson counties: the pallid sturgeon, Topeka shiner, interior least tern, whooping crane, red knot, piping plover, northern long-eared bat, and western prairie fringed orchid.

The application added that five of those species have the potential to occur in the project area during some portion of the year: interior least tern, whooping crane, northern long-eared bat, red knot, and piping plover.

The interior least tern, red knot, whooping crane, and piping plover could migrate through the project area during the spring and fall but are otherwise not expected to occur in the project area, according to the application. The project area is located within the 95% migration corridor when considered specific to South Dakota; however, there have been no confirmed whooping crane sightings within the project area as of spring 2018, the application said.

The project area is within the defined range of the northern long-eared bat, and the species could be present during the summer breeding period, the application said, adding that the pallid sturgeon and Topeka shiner are federally listed fish species, but have not been documented within the project area.

While the project area is also within the range of the federally listed western prairie fringed orchid, that species is believed to be extirpated from South Dakota and has not been observed in the project area, the application noted.
One federally listed species, northern long-eared bat, was qualitatively identified in the project area during analysis of acoustic survey data in 2015 but was not identified during 2016 surveys, according to the application.

No other federally listed species have been documented in the project area, the application said, adding that Prevailing Wind Park will comply with avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures specified in the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement; therefore, the project would not adversely impact listed species.

Mitigation measures for the project include that wind turbines would be illuminated as required by Federal Aviation Administration regulations and recommendations, the application noted.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3286 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares was TransmissionHub’s chief editor until August 2021, as well as part of the team that established TransmissionHub in 2011. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial from 2005 to 2011. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines.