Sweetland Wind Farm seeks approval for 200-MW wind farm, 230-kV gen-tie line in South Dakota

Sweetland Wind Farm, LLC on March 6 filed with the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission an application for facility permits regarding the Sweetland Wind Farm Project in Hand County, S.D.

According to the application, prepared by Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company, Sweetland is requesting facility permits for the approximately 200-MW wind farm and associated facilities, as well as an up to seven-mile, 230-kV generation tie-in transmission facility. The project would be situated within an approximately 20,979-acre area located southeast of the City of Miller in Hand County.

The application added that the project components include:

  • Up to 71 primary wind turbine locations and 15 alternate locations
  • Access roads to each wind turbine
  • An operations and maintenance (O&M) facility
  • Up to four permanent meteorological towers
  • Electrical power underground collection lines and communication system
  • A project substation
  • The gen-tie line
  • A switchyard
  • Additional temporary construction areas, including crane paths, pull sites, access roads, a batch plant, and a laydown yard

The project would interconnect with the Western Area Power Administration’s (WAPA) existing Fort Thompson to Huron 230-kV transmission line, located in Township 110N, Range 66W, Hand County. The application also said that Sweetland is proposing to build the gen-tie line in Hand County from the project substation in Township 111N, Range 66W, to a switchyard to interconnect with WAPA’s line.

The specific electricity generated by the project would be utilized as needed on the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) regional grid and cannot be tracked to its exact delivery location or final use, the application said. The electricity generated by the project would help SPP operators meet electricity demand in the immediate and surrounding SPP control areas, the application added.

Because execution of an interconnection agreement allowing the project to interconnect to WAPA’s system constitutes a federal action, WAPA is preparing an environmental assessment (EA) for the project interconnection, in accordance with the applicable requirements and standards of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The application added that while WAPA must analyze impacts of the entire project, WAPA’s federal action is limited to the approval of the proposed interconnection.

Baseline avian studies for the project are ongoing and will continue through April, the application said, adding that the cultural resources survey is also ongoing. The results of various coordination activities and studies, along with applicable setback requirements, have been used to inform the site layout and design of the project. The application added that final micro-siting of project facilities will continue to occur between now and summer, based on the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment; remaining wetland and waterbodies evaluations; cultural and tribal resource surveys, and geotechnical analysis; as well as final engineering design.

Based on the analysis completed by Sweetland, the project is not expected to have significant impacts on the environment, the application said, noting that about 75.3 acres of permanent disturbance is expected during the life of the project, which represents about 0.4% of the total acreage within the project area.

Impacts to wetlands and streams have been minimized. The application also said that project components are generally located in upland areas, avoiding low-lying wetlands and streams; permanent impacts to wetlands and streams are anticipated to be less than 0.10 acre.

Most land proposed to be directly affected by project construction is agricultural land, the application said, adding that siting of project infrastructure has been implemented to maximize placement in areas previously disturbed by agricultural activities.

A cultural resource Level I records review identified previously recorded archaeological and historic resources located within or near the project area. The application further stated that Level III intensive cultural resource surveys were conducted last October in coordination with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), and that additional surveys will be completed when sufficient snow melt allows for appropriate ground surface visibility, in coordination with the SHPO.

The application also noted that the current estimated capital cost of the project is about $240m, based on indicative construction and wind turbine pricing cost estimates for the proposed GE 2.82/127 turbine layout. That estimate includes lease acquisition, permitting, engineering, procurement, and construction of the wind farm, gen-tie line, and associated facilities, as well as project financing. The application also said that ongoing O&M costs and administrative costs for the project are estimated to be about $8m per year, including payments to landowners for easement rights.

The project costs include the gen-tie line, which carries about $3.9m in capital costs and about $10,000 per year in O&M costs. The application added that the gen-tie line costs also include payments to landowners for their transmission easements.

Among other things, the application said that if the project is delayed, its benefits would be reduced, adding that the project qualified at the end of 2016 to receive the full production tax credit (PTC) for a 10-year period. If the project does not achieve commercial operations by Dec. 31, 2020, then the PTC amount received by the project would be reduced by 20% for each year of delay, the application said.

As noted in the application, Sweetland is a wholly owned subsidiary of Scout Clean Energy, which was formed in July 2016 as an affiliate of Harvest Energy Services, Inc.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 2807 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 13 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at corinar@pennwell.com.