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Wind energy: County Commission hears about Xcel agreement

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The Stutsman County Commission heard from a Geronimo Energy representative that Xcel Energy has agreed to purchase wind energy that will be generated at the Courtenay Wind Farm.

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Jay Hesse, of Geronimo Energy, told commissioners Tuesday that the decision was announced July 16.

"The project has signed a long-term agreement with Xcel Energy," Hesse said. The decision came after a series of bids, he said.

The Courtenay Wind Farm, which has the bulk of its construction slated for spring 2014, is the largest wind farm project ever to be considered as a single permit in North Dakota. The project will utilize between 100 and 133 turbines to produce 200 megawatts of electricity.

Commissioners seemed pleased with the Xcel agreement.

"You can generate all the electricity you want, but if no one buys it, what good is it going to do?" Commission Chairman Mark Klose said.

The County Commission also approved Stutsman County Extension advertising the open positions of administrative assistant and 4-H coordinator, switching the 4-H coordinator from a part-time to full-time position.

At first, when extension office agent Christina Rittenbach made her request, Klose questioned how many kids are involved in 4-H, saying that he was under the impression enrollment is down.

Rittenbach said that while there are fewer 4-H clubs then there were in the past, there are more kids participating.

"Some of those clubs have joined together," Commissioner Dennis Ova said.

Commissioner Dale Marks added that Stutsman County's 4-H archery program has grown.

Rittenbach said there is a need for a full-time 4-H coordinator as extension employees are often not in the office because they're out at educational programs.

"Sometimes we can (change those schedules), sometimes it's difficult," Rittenbach said.

County Auditor and Chief Operating Officer Casey Bradley indicated that there is money in the county's budget to switch the 4-H coordinator position to full time.

Marks added that although the 4-H coordinator position will be full time, the rest of the extension staff must still help with those responsibilities.

The County Commission also:

* approved permission for the county to re-advertise for an IT assistant. The first advertisement yielded 10 applicants, none of which were selected for the job.

* tabled awarding a bid for a project on a segment of County Highway 40. It will be discussed at an 8 a.m. special meeting Friday.

* approved paying the county's portion of South Central Dakota Regional Council dues to Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. The county's portion of the $33,810 dues is $12,510.

* approved $83,000 for the JSDC budget draft, which is a 5 percent increase from what the county paid last year.

* approved destroying paper copies of the commission's bills as part of its movement to a paperless, all-electronic system.

* approved a beer and liquor application for Corner Bar of Jamestown to serve at Ypsilanti Ribfest.

* approved to submit two road projects to collect House funding -- construction on 9 miles north of Medina and construction on 8 miles south of Interstate 94 and County Highway 62.

Also on Tuesday, the Stutsman County Park Board approved to pay for dust control on county roads near the cabins in the Jamestown Reservoir area.

Sun reporter Charly Haley can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at chaley@jamestownsun.com

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