Wind Farm In Lincoln County Still Up In The Air

LINCOLN COUNTY, S.D. – It’s been discussed for nearly three and a half years.

But the fate of a proposed wind farm in Lincoln County is still up in the air.

Now, the company behind the project says it’s time decisions are made.

Dakota Power Community Wind is looking to build up to 300 turbines to start a wind farm in southern Lincoln County.

But it all depends on what Lincoln County commissioners decide.

“It sure would be nice to have something definite,” says Dakota Power Community Wind board member Brian Minish.

This week, county commissioners tabled a vote to determine how far away the turbines have to be from property lines – also known as the setback distance.

Minish says the proposed lengths make a big difference.

One option is to keep the current distance of 1,320 ft., which is about a quarter of a mile.

But, other options could increase the distance to a half a mile, or nearly one mile, limiting construction.

“It doesn’t make a difference between one mile, or a half a mile,” says Minish. “Either one of those would make it impossible to build a wind farm down there.”

“As a board, if we crafted our ordinances and our policies so that businesses could or couldn’t come into the county, I think that’s the wrong way to look at it,” says Lincoln County commission chairman Dan King.

King says there’s a reason for the delay in decision-making.

Commissioners are researching what are called wind rights.

“A wind tower creates a wake that affects downwind where wind towers can be placed,” explains King.

King says they need to look into how close the towers should be to one another and how that affects wind rights.

However, Minish says this is more of a property rights issue.

He says the company already has agreements with 104 landowners in southern Lincoln County.

So even though some disagree with the project, the company says those who want a turbine on their land should be able to have one built.

Another public hearing will be scheduled in the next couple of months for commissioners to vote on setback distance.

They did approve regulations Monday night, topping the noise of the turbines to 45 decibels.

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