Wind Towers Changing Skyline in the Hills

TOWERING WIND TURBINES are being erected in the hills near South Shore as part of the Crowned Ridge Wind project by NextEra Energy Resources. Fifteen towers are standing thus far with more to be erected soon. Crews have been building access roads, hauling cement and constructing the towers. The project is expected to be complete by December 31 of this year.

The hills surrounding Troy, Stockholm, South Shore and Waverly are alive with activity as crews work to erect wind towers as part of NextEra Energy Resources’ Crowned Ridge Wind (CRW) project. Fifteen towers have been erected thus far according to Roxanne Reyes, communications specialist with NextEra.
NextEra has contracted with Blatt-ner Energy for the construction of the wind farm and the transmission line to carry the power from the site.
A staging area for trailers and supplies has been developed in the South Shore area, but some of the equipment for the project is being stored at an off-site storage area. According to Reyes, in some cases equipment is shipped directly from General Electric to the site.
A cement plant has also been assembled to produce cement for the tower bases and other facilities.
The company has 44 primary turbine locations permitted in Grant County. However, not all of the proposed turbine locations have the necessary construction activities completed yet. “We are working safely and being respectful of our neighbors as we work in the community to achieve the best results for all involved,” said Reyes.
NextEra is partnering with local companies on the project. “There are close to 300 temporary construction workers who reside in Grant and Codington counties,” said Tyler Wilhelm, senior project manager at NextEra. “During the construction phase our goal is to hire as many workers as possible from the local area.” The biggest footprint of the project is in Codington County.
Area businesses who are working on the project include Forester Testing, Brus Fencing, AP Construction, Fisher Sand and Gravel, GCC Concrete, American Fencing Company, Ronglien Excavating, Weatherguard Roofing Company, Dakota Portable Toilets, UPI Petroleum, Flat Rate Trucking/Conveying, Midwest Pipe Supply and J&J Earthworks.
Work on the 230-kilovolt transmission line continues as well. It will enter Grant County from Codington County west of Troy, and its path will wind north and east, passing south of Stockholm and south of Milbank on its route to the Big Stone South Substation near the Big Stone Power Plant. A reactive compensation substation will also be located near where the transmission line will tie into the Big Stone South Substation. “It will be up and running when the wind farm is operational,” added Wilhelm.
The weather hasn’t hindered construction significantly thus far. “It hasn’t delayed our timeline, but we did have some pretty nasty weather,” noted Wilhelm. “It stopped us for about a day and a half, but we have enough of a workforce to make up the lost ground.” The proposed project is estimated to be completed by December 31 of this year.
Initially a 300 megawatt (MW) project, the company announced at landowner meetings in October that the project was being scaled back to 200MW. The company will defer 100MW until further notice. Approximately 46 turbine locations north of Highway 20 in Grant County have been deferred.
The deferral is a result of unforeseen heightened costs in regards to interconnection with the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) and Southwest Power Pool (SPP) regional grid. “We will work diligently with all landowners to ensure that turbines that are part of the 100MW deferral can be sited and built once the MISO and SPP regional grid operators produce an interconnection option that is cost-effective for the project, its participating landowners and customers,” said a Wilhelm.
NextEra will take another look at the project in the first quarter of 2020. “Many of the landowners were disappointed. We want to be able to bring the project up to 300MW permanently,” said Wilhelm. “It’s not just to do with costs, it’s the operational functions as well. We want to build facilities that will be fully functional.”
NextEra assured participants at the landowner meeting that they will remain in contact as the process moves forward. “We have the full intention of continuing to work with them and hope they want to keep working with us as well,” stated Wilhelm. 
Wilhelm admitted that the tax  benefits of the project will not be as significant in Grant County because of the downsizing.
In most cases, NextEra does not own the land where they construct the wind farms. They enter into land rights agreements with landowners who volunteer to partner with Next-Era. If a landowner has an existing and valid option agreement, NextEra will continue to pay the landowner in full until the easement option expires.
Once construction is complete, an estimated seven to 12 full-time, long-term operations and maintenance positions will be created for the life of the project, according to NextEra.

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Grant County Review

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