March 5, 2014

North Dakota making efforts to continue wind power surge

North Dakota's state legislature is taking initiatives to create state tax breaks for new wind farm projects and bring more wind power to the state.

Wind energy projects are flourishing across the nation and taking advantage of areas with heavy gusts and strong winds to bring usable energy to local residents. In North Dakota, wind energy is growing, and many wind operators are looking to add more turbines to the state. According to The Jamestown Sun, North Dakota ranks 11th for wind production in the U.S., and is sixth in the nation for wind energy potential.

“It's good wind potential, and that's just a matter of geography and the weather,” Mike Fladeland, manager of energy business development for the North Dakota department of commerce in Bismarck, told The Jamestown Sun. “It's kind of like the oil industry, where it was just laid in our lap.”

Since 2010, wind turbine blades and towers were being shipped and installed all across the state, but some feared the federal tax incentive that expired at the end of 2013 would hurt new wind production. However, according to The Jamestown Sun, North Dakota has taken initiative and created its own tax breaks for new wind development.

“In the state of North Dakota, we have property tax incentives, sales tax - there's a sales tax exemption on equipment that is used in wind farm development,” Fladeland told The Jamestown Sun. “Anything that goes into the wind farm receives that sales tax exemption.”

More projects to come in 2014

Currently, there are around five different projects waiting for approval to add more wind energy capacity to the state. Fladeland told The Jamestown Sun that within the next couple of years, North Dakota should have at least 2 gigawatts of wind-generated power throughout the state.

Also, the Montana-Dakota Utilities has intentions to buy 105 megawatts of wind energy from the Thunder Spirit Wind farm in Adams County. The added capacity will bring the state's total to 20 percent renewable energy.

“That contract will provide our customers with stable pricing over that 25-year contract that we signed,” Mark Hanson, a spokesperson for MDU, told The Jamestown Sun.

Another project preparing to launch was in Stark County, and the county's zoning commission recently approved the permitting for a wind project that will bring an additional 55 wind turbines across Stark and Morton counties, reported The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. The wind farm would cover a total of 11,000 acres and Basin Electric would purchase the power produced by the wind turbines.

There originally was some worry about the area's duck population and the wind turbines. Ducks Unlimited conducted a study in Bismarck where it tagged more than 200 breeding female mallard ducks during mating season near one of the state's wind farms in 2010 to 2011, The Jamestown Sun reported.

“We observed one collision mortality confirmed with a female mallard out of quite a few marked birds, over 200 marked birds,” Tanner Gue, a conservation specialist with Ducks Unlimited, told The Jamestown Sun. “It was only a two-year telemetry study, and you'd have to be careful what you infer from that, but for that particular study we thought that collision isn't that big of a deal for a breeding duck.”

Wind energy is continuing to develop across North Dakota, and wind farm owners and operators can turn to Broadwind Energy for all of their uptower gearbox and blade repair service needs.