The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission held a public hearing Thursday on the permit application for the proposed Prevailing Wind Park Energy facility. Utah-based sPower would own and operate the 61-turbine project on approximately 50,000 acres of land in Bon Homme, Charles Mix and Hutchinson counties. The company would sell the electricity to North Dakota-based Basin Electric Power Cooperative.
Landowners and residents voiced concerns about health impacts, sound and flicker effects, property values and obstructed views.
“This will destroy the aesthetics of our rural area,” said Julie Freier, who said her family owns 800 acres near the project site.
Tripp resident Karen Jenkins said she doesn’t believe that Bon Homme County officials, particularly the zoning board, have been transparent about the wind farm. She said the Prevailing Wind project would worsen issues at her family’s property, which has already suffered a major hit from the nearby Beethoven wind farm.
“There’s so many people in this area that are afraid to say something because they don’t want to fight with their friends and neighbors,” said Jenkins’ husband, Mike Jenkins. “Everybody is impacted one way or the other.”
SPower Wind Vice President Peter Pawloski said the wind project could bring economic benefits, including job opportunities, landowner payments and spending in the region. The project could be operational by the end of next year, pending permit approval, he said.
The company wants to ensure that the project remains as “minimally disruptive as possible,” Pawloski said.
Commissioner Chris Nelson said regulators will likely make a final decision in October.