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Proposed wind farm gains traction, still faces uphill battle

Proponents of a proposed wind farm in Lincoln County gained some traction last month at the July 21 County Commissioners’ hearing to consider approving, denying or amending planning and zoning’s May approval of Dakota Power Community Wind’s request to install five test towers to gather meteorological data.

The data will help wind farm planners determine optimal placement of wind turbines, though the commissioners’ decision was limited to consideration of the temporary placement of the test towers, not what could follow.

In order to zero in on the most appropriate placement of the turbines, meteorological data must be gathered by test towers (sometimes called meteorological evaluation towers, or MET towers) for two to three years. The test towers are not permanent structures and will be removed once the testing period is over. The permits granted by the county will allow for a testing period of up to four years. The clock begins once the towers are deemed operational.

Weighing input from both proponents and opponents against the backdrop of county planning and zoning ordinances, the commissioners ultimately signed off on the towers by a 3-1 vote, with Commissioner Dan King dissenting and Commissioner Dave Gillespie recusing himself from the proceedings.

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