Wind picking up in N.D.North Dakota policy welcomes energy development in all its forms — traditional or alternative — coal, oil or wind. The strategy has paid off in more jobs, increased business activity and boosted state-tax revenue, primarily the result of booming crude oil production. The state fully intends to be a major exporter of energy.
By: Bismarck Tribune, The Jamestown Sun
North Dakota policy welcomes energy development in all its forms — traditional or alternative — coal, oil or wind. The strategy has paid off in more jobs, increased business activity and boosted state-tax revenue, primarily the result of booming crude oil production. The state fully intends to be a major exporter of energy.
North Dakotans should promote new wind farms like the proposed 150-megawatt, 75-turbine, $300 million wind farm 10 miles northeast of Hettinger in Adams County. They should support the wind farm but be aware of fickle federal policies — tax incentives and environmental issues, in particular.
Work on the Thunder Spirit Wind Farm near Hettinger is expected to begin in June and be completed by Dec. 31, 2012, when the present production tax credit for wind farms runs out. That tax credit has been a big factor in putting wind farms on the land in North Dakota.
State Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer says there’s a 50-50 chance the tax credit will be extended but given the controversial status of the federal budget, there’s no guarantee that will happen. Nor, given the monumental federal debt, should any tax credit program be renewed without grave reconsideration. There’s certainly no consensus on the merit of creating artificial markets for wind energy.
In April, a planned $400 million wind farm in southeastern North Dakota was canceled because of potential threats to whooping cranes and piping plovers; environmental issues usually hamper development of traditional energy sources.
The only firm wind farm project now in development is Minnesota Power’s Bison 3 in Morton and Oliver counties. Bison I represents a 76-megawatt wind farm expected to be completed this year, and adjacent to it is Bison 2, another 105-megawatt farm under construction. Bison 3 will represent an additional 105 megawatts in the same area.
The wind farms represent significant private investment in the state’s overall energy industry.
Minnesota requires that power it buys from North Dakota have a certain percentage of green energy, along with the lignite-generated electricity. Thunder Spirit Wind Farm satisfies that Minnesota requirement and, thereby, aids in the sale of electricity from this state’s more traditional power plants.
The Minnesota market, a major North Dakota customer, demands wind power. Meeting that requirement represents good sense.
For North Dakota and the power industry, developing wind farms, adding clean coal technologies and constructing transmission lines is all a balancing act based on markets, as well as federal and state policies. So far, the state has kept its balance.