Watertown, SD -- Mostly opponents to the Crown Ridge II wind power development project filled a hearing room at the Watertown Event Center last night as the Public Utilities Commission took input from the public over a request by the NextEra Energy to construct a 425 million dollar project that will be constructed in Codington, Grant, and Deuel counties in Eastern South Dakota utilizing 132 wind towers. Daryl Hart is the Director Of Development with NextEra Energy who filed the application for the project. He says the company owns 118 wind farms and is the largest generator of wind and solar power in the world. He says the power from this project will be sold to Northern States Power Company.
Tyler Wilhelm is the senior project manager for Crowned Ridge II.
He says the project will be boost to the local economy with 250 construction jobs along with twelve full-time positions added. There will also be improvements made to county and township roads. 40 million dollars in payments will go out to landowners over the life of the project and tax revenues will be paid to local school districts and counties with Deuel County being first to receive more than 12 million dollars over the 25 year operating life of the projectd. Codington County will receive 12.9 million and Grant county, where the foot print is much smaller, receiving 109,000 dollars. Among the opponents was Garry Ehlebrecht from the Goodwin area. He said he is in the middle of the project and takes issue with those who are participating landowners who are being paid while the non participants are not being compensated for, what he said, was the taking of their land.
Rich Rall lives near Goodwin. He says the wind farm projects are nothing more than scams.
He claimed the company had greased the hands of the local zoning committees who refused to recuse themselves because of a conflict of interest. Anita Raml and her husband live near Goodwin. She rose in support of the project saying they will allow construction on their property.
The commission took no action at last night’s meeting.