The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, in a Nov. 28 final decision, issued, subject to conditions, an energy facility permit to Prevailing Wind Park, LLC for an up to 219.6-MW wind energy facility.
As noted in the final decision, Prevailing Wind Park on May 30 filed an application with the commission for an energy facility permit for an up to 219.6-MW nameplate capacity wind energy facility to be located in Hutchinson County, Bon Homme County, and Charles Mix County in South Dakota, known as the Prevailing Wind Park Project.
The project includes up to 61 wind turbine generators, access roads to each turbine, underground 34.5-kV electrical collection system, including an occasional aboveground junction box, connecting the turbines to the project collector substation, underground fiber-optic cable for turbine communications co-located with the collector lines, a 34.5-kV to 115-kV collector substation, up to four permanent meteorological (MET) towers, an operations and maintenance (O&M) facility, and additional temporary construction areas, including crane paths, public road improvements, a laydown yard, and a concrete batch plant(s) (as needed.
The project will interconnect with the Western Area Power Administration’s (WAPA) existing Utica Junction substation, located about 27 miles east of the project, the commission added in its final decision.
Prevailing Wind Park 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 commission added that a 115-kV/230-kV substation will be built near the point of interconnection to step up the voltage to match that of WAPA’s 230-kV interconnection facilities.
The current estimated capital cost of the project is about $297m based on indicative construction and wind turbine pricing cost estimates, the commission said.
Prevailing Wind Park presented evidence of consumer demand and need for the project, the commission said, noting that Prevailing Wind Park has entered into a 30-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with a South Dakota load serving entity. The output from the facility, which could annually generate up to 933,116 MWh, will be used to meet the needs for South Dakota residential, commercial, and industrial customers.
“The proposed project would provide a new source of low cost energy in South Dakota and help the country move towards the goal of energy independence, while reducing pollution and carbon emissions,” the commission said.
The evidence submitted by Prevailing Wind Park demonstrates that the project will comply with applicable laws and rules, the commission said, adding that neither staff nor intervenors have asserted otherwise or submitted evidence to the contrary.
The commission also noted that the evidence demonstrates that the project does not pose a threat of serious injury to the environment in the project area and that Prevailing Wind Park has adopted reasonable avoidance and minimization measures, as well as commitments, to further limit potential environmental impacts. The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department did not identify any concerns unique to the project, the commission said.
While construction of the project may have impacts on wildlife species primarily as a result of habitat disturbance, following construction, all areas of temporary disturbance will be reclaimed with vegetation consistent with the surrounding vegetation types, the commission said.
Among other things, the commission also said that the record demonstrates that while the project may directly impact birds and bats, avian fatalities due to the project are anticipated to be low and to not have significant population-level impacts.
The commission said that Prevailing Wind Park is to comply with certain permit conditions, which include that Prevailing Wind Park agrees to avoid direct impacts to cultural resources that are unevaluated, eligible for, or listed in, the National Register of Historic Places.
As noted in the final decision, Prevailing Wind Park is a wholly owned subsidiary of sPower Development Company, LLC.