Wind power: Huffing and puffing

North Dakota State Roundup

Published May 1, 2008  | May 2008 issue

It looks like North Dakota is attempting to live up to its billing as the Saudi Arabia of wind power, because it's hard to keep track of all the new proposals.

In the fall of 2007, the state was producing about 170 megawatts of wind energy. According to local newspapers and other reports, a handful of major proposals would push that figure up dramatically: In January, a 159-megawatt wind farm near Langdon started producing power and promptly sought a 40-megawatt expansion. Other proposals on the drawing board this year include a 150-megawatt project near Finley, which reportedly could grow to 500 megawatts; a 200-megawatt farm near Valley City (at a reported cost of $350 million); and a 115-megawatt project south of Minot ($240 million).

The activity stems in part from the scheduled elimination of a federal tax break for wind power at the end of this year. Transmission has been repeatedly identified as a potential kink in the development of more wind power. So in February, two utility companies announced a new 400-megawatt power line that will move new wind power to a substation near West Fargo.

Ronald A. Wirtz