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Wind Potential Grows in ND

It’s really not surprising to many of us in North Dakota, but a new report from the American Wind Energy Association says there’s more wind energy potential in the Dakotas than previously estimated.

The report lists North Dakota number six in the nation in wind energy potential.

However several companies are arguing that the state is number one and is planning a multi-billion dollar project to harness the wind and ship the energy from it across the country.

Shaun Sipma has details.

(Roger Johnson, Ward County Landowner) “I’m here to tell you that I’ve lived here my whole life I can attest to that the wind blows here and not just for me..”

Roger Johnson farms and ranches this area of Ward County near Carpio and Donnybrook

He’s one of about 250 landowners that have signed on with Hartland wind farm project to develop a massive wind turbine energy system that encompass an area of 1.6 million acres in North Central North Dakota.

(Curt Johnson, CEO Denali Energy) “We’ve intensified a site area that is everything north of US Highway 2, west of the Des Lacs Wildlife Refuge all the way to the Canadian Border. So those are our south and eastern boundaries the western boundaries would be the western of Montrail and Burke counties all the way to the Canadian Border.”

Curt Johnson the CEO of Denali Energy says their studies show greater potential for wind energy in North Dakota than anywhere else in the nation.

(Curt Johnson, CEO Denali Energy) “In North Dakota the wind resource is much stronger is more consistent because of the nature of the ridge that comes out of Canada that’s the Missouri Excarpment”

Johnson says Denali Energy see’s a long-term wind project producing eight to ten megawatts of electricity from Heartland Wind Farm

To supplement the wind turbines a co-generation Natural Gas facility would be also be built to keep the power flowing even when the wind isn’t blowing.

(Curt Johnson, CEO Denali Energy) “When you combine the natural gas with wind resource you get a very reliable very cost effective energy source.”

The biggest obstacle though is the development of a transmission network to get the power to the eastern interconnect where it’s needed

A job that’s being taken on by ITC Holdings of Novia Michigan and American Electric Power of Columbus Ohio.

(Curt Johnson, CEO Denali Energy) “They’re considering a major pipeline from North Dakota point east that’s going to allow us to develop 8 to 10 thousand megawatts over the next two decades.”

But before a single turbine can be constructed or transmission pole set all companies involved are waiting on a piece of legislation in Congress Senate Bill 1462.

(Curt Johnson, CEO Denali Energy) “That bill makes a clearing call to these states that are necessary to work together to work together and they’ve got time frame in order to get that accomplished and if they don’t get that accomplished then the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee FERC can step in.”

Finally the cost, developers say under their plan they will pass the cost of development on to customers in the east….. those who will benefit from the power.

For landowners like Roger Johnson the earliest they could see construction of phase one on the Hartland Windfarm would be 2011.

(Roger Johnson, Ward County Landowner) “The green power just makes sense. I think that’s a way any renewable resource has got to be good for the country.”