Crowned Ridge Wind agrees to penalty, says its aircraft detection lighting system is nearly done

Capitol News Bureau
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PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The Crowned Ridge Wind project in northeastern South Dakota will pay a $170,000 penalty in the next few weeks, after failing to have an aircraft detection lighting system in place before the wind farm began operating in January.

The state Public Utilities Commission approved the settlement Tuesday. The money will be placed in the South Dakota permanent school fund.

Crowned Ridge also agreed to pay about $2,000 per day after May 20 if the system isn’t working by then.

Miles Schumacher, an attorney for the project, said all towers, radar equipment and communication equipment for the system is in place.

Unfinished is fence around the radar site. Schumacher said wet ground caused the delay.

“Flight testing will begin tonight,” Schumacher said. He said the system could be finished by the end of this week and definitely by the end of next week.

Amanda Reiss, a lawyer for the commission, said the settlement was intended to encourage Crowned Ridge to work “diligently” toward completion. The commission staff filed the complaint in January. Schumacher replied that the project had applied to the Federal Aviation Administration the next day.

Commission chairman Gary Hanson asked either side whether there is a deadline for the payment to the permanent school fund. Reiss said it must be made within 14 business days after the commission officially enters its order.

Hanson said he appreciated work by “all the parties.”

“I think it’s a reasonable solution,” he added. “Glad to see everybody worked together to resolve this.”

Commissioner Chris Nelson said he appreciated the commission staff pursuing the matter and Crowned Ridge expediting the completion.

The entire docket for the complaint is here. The main docket for the project in Grant and Codington counties is here.

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