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ND regulators continue with approvals of new wind projects

NorthDakota regulators have signed off on a new 150-MW wind project to belocated in Hettinger and Stark counties. The North Dakota Public ServiceCommission on July 6 voted to approve a siting permit for the planned 72turbine Brady 2wind facility, a project of NextEraEnergy Resources LLC affiliate Brady Wind II LLC.

ThePSC on June 20 receiveda proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law and order from the company. The$250 million facility is expected to be in service by the end of 2016, and willbe made up of two kinds of General Electric Co. turbines.

Thecompany agreed to a turbine setback of 2,000 feet from inhabitedresidences to comply with Stark County's requirements and a turbine setback of2,640 feet from the homes of all non-participating landowners as well as aturbine setback of 953 feet from any non-participating landowner's propertyline, the PSC said. (PU-16-42)

Therequirements are a direct result of public input, according to PSCChairman Julie Fedorchak.

Brady2 will be located adjacent to the site of NextEra's Brady Wind 1 project, which was approved bythe PSC on June 16. A certificateof site compatibility was granted to Brady Wind LLC for Brady 1, and acertificate of corridor compatibility for a 19-mile, 230-kV line, also in StarkCounty, was also granted. Construction on Brady Wind 1 should take about sixmonths and cost about $250 million, and the transmission line will cost another$20.5 million.

Thetransmission line will serve both projects, according to the PSC. The output ofboth Brady 1 and Brady 2 will be delivered to under30-year power purchase agreements.

InJune, the PSC also approved yet another NextEra wind project, Oliver III, andits related transmission line. MinnkotaPower Coop Inc. will purchasethe output from the roughly 100-MW wind project near Center, N.D., under a35-year agreement announced in April. The Oliver Wind III project has an estimated costof $153 million and is an expansion of its Oliver I and II wind projects.Oliver III is anticipated to begin operating by 2017 and will close to doublethe size of the existing Oliver County Wind Energy Center.The PSC approved a related 4.5-mile, 230-kV transmission line, with anestimated cost of $11.4 million, as well. (PU-16-122, PU-16-123)

NextEraEnergy Resources began operating the first Oliver Wind facility in 2006, with the second,Oliver Wind II,coming online in 2007. The output of both is sold under contract to subsidiaryMinnesota Power Inc.