Dakota Range III, LLC on Oct. 26 filed with the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission an application for a facility permit for an up to 151.2-MW wind energy conversion facility and associated approximately eight-mile, 345-kV interconnection transmission line to be located in Grant and Roberts counties in South Dakota.
Sections that intersect the wind project portion of the project are:
- Grant County – Farmington and Blooming Valley townships
- Roberts County – Summit and Ortley townships
The application – prepared by Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company – added that sections that intersect the transmission facility portion of the project are:
- Grant County – Farmington, Blooming Valley, and Mazeppa townships
The wind and transmission facilities are collectively referred to as the Dakota Range III Project, which would include:
- Up to 42 wind turbine generators
- Access roads to turbines and associated facilities
- Underground 34.5-kV electrical collector lines connecting the turbines to the collection substation
- Underground fiber-optic cable for turbine communications co-located with the collector lines
- A 34.5- to 345-kV collection substation
- Up to three permanent meteorological towers
- The transmission line connecting the collector substation and the interconnection switching station
- An operations and maintenance (O&M) facility
- Additional temporary construction areas, including laydown and batch plant areas
Dakota Range III, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Apex Clean Energy Holdings, LLC, the application added, noting that Apex in March 2015 acquired the project assets from a small local developer, Wahpeton Wind.
Electricity generated by the project would interconnect to the high-voltage transmission grid via the eight-mile, overhead line that would carry the electricity to a switching station connected to the Big Stone South to Ellendale 345-kV transmission line. The electricity generated by the project would be used as needed on the Midcontinent ISO (MISO) regional grid and cannot be tracked to its exact delivery location or final use, the application added.
The application said that Dakota Range III has retained the services of Vaisala, LLC to perform a wind energy due diligence report for the project. Based on data collected, wind speeds are highest in November and December, and lowest in July and August.
The application also noted that if the project is delayed, the project’s benefits would be greatly reduced, adding that the project must be built by the end of 2020 to receive a 2.5-cents per kWh production tax credit (PTC). If the project does not reach operation until 2021 or later, the project would not qualify for 100% of the PTC, the application said, noting that the PTC per kWh amount will decrease by 20% each year until the project is placed in service.
Discussing environmental studies and field surveys conducted for the project, the application said, for instance, that the radio frequency impact study, raptor nest surveys, and prairie grouse lek surveys are complete, while the historical/architectural survey, as well as wetland and waterbodies delineation are ongoing.
The application noted that Dakota Range III conducted pre-application meetings with the counties in May, and that it plans to submit the conditional use permit applications in November.
Based on the analysis completed by Dakota Range III, the project is not expected to have significant impacts on the environment. The application also said that about 132 acres of permanent disturbance is expected during the life of the project. The project has minimized impacts to wetland areas, and most land proposed to be directly affected by project construction is cropland. Siting of project infrastructure has been implemented to maximize placement in areas previously disturbed by agricultural activities, the application added, noting that construction of project facilities, as well as temporary and permanent disturbances in cropland or grassland is not expected to negatively affect terrestrial ecosystems.
Among other things, the application said that the current estimated capital cost of the project is about $200m based on indicative construction and wind turbine pricing cost estimates for the proposed Vestas V136-4.2 MW turbine layout. That estimate includes lease acquisition, permitting, engineering, procurement, and construction of turbines, access roads, underground electrical collector system, project collection substation, eight-mile transmission line, O&M facility, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system, and meterological towers, as well as project financing. The application added that the total installed capital costs for the transmission facility are estimated to be $5.2m.