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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, November 12, 2015


CONTACT: Leah Mohr, deputy executive director, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, (605) 773-3201 or (605) 280-4327


PUC approves construction permit for Willow Creek Wind Energy Facility


PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota is moving toward greater development of its renewable energy resources with the approval of the construction of Willow Creek Wind Energy Facility in Butte County. The PUC accepted a settlement stipulation for the construction of the facility offered by PUC staff and Wind Quarry LLC, the wind farm developer, at its regular meeting in Pierre on Nov. 12, 2015.


According to the National Renewal Energy Laboratory, South Dakota ranks fourth in the nation for potential to generate energy from wind. The opportunity provided by this status has already attracted a number of commercial wind farms to the state that collectively account for more than 884 megawatts of wind energy installed. When operational, Willow Creek will move South Dakota closer to the 1,000-megawatt mark of installed wind energy.


Construction of the 103-megawatt wind farm, approximately 10 miles northeast of Newell, will include 45 wind turbines and will interconnect to a 115-kilovolt transmission line owned by the Western Area Power Administration. Construction of the wind farm and associated substation could begin next month and be operational as early as December 2017.


In the settlement stipulation submitted by PUC staff and Willow Creek representatives, the parties outlined 32 terms and conditions related to the construction and operation of the wind energy project. Items addressed by the stipulation included road protections, mitigation and restoration of areas and property disturbed during construction and maintenance, and communication with landowners.


In his comments at the meeting, PUC Chairman Chris Nelson noted that interaction between Wind Quarry and landowners will be essential as construction commences. “Wind Quarry has worked well with the public throughout this process. I encourage you to work hand-in-hand with landowners, particularly during construction. Returning land to its pre-construction state is the best way to start this wind farm out on a positive note,” Nelson stated.


Commission Vice Chairperson Kristie Fiegen commented on the amount of detail in the siting docket. “This is the first wind farm application I’ve considered during my time on the commission. The application was extremely thorough. I appreciate how Wind Quarry has worked with the public and the PUC staff,” Fiegen said.


The addition of the Willow Creek project will continue to position South Dakota as a leader in the wind energy arena. “Many people will be surprised to know that the addition of the Willow Creek project is likely to propel South Dakota to be the state with the greatest amount of wind as a percentage of the state’s total capacity, in the nation,”  Commissioner Gary Hanson said. “I’m excited about this project because I believe it will show South Dakota’s potential to be nationally recognized for its wind energy,” he concluded.


Wind Quarry filed its application to construct the wind farm with PUC on May 27, 2015. The PUC held a public input hearing in July in Newell. State law requires the commission to make its decision no later than six months after receiving an application for a wind energy facility.


For more information on the Willow Creek Wind Energy Facility docket, visit the PUC website at Select Commission Actions, Commission Dockets, Electric Dockets, 2015 Electric Dockets, and EL15-020 to access the information.