S.D. regulators want local roads fixed as part of transferring Crowned Ridge II wind-farm permits

Capitol News Bureau
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PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The state Public Utilities Commission agreed Wednesday that NextEra Energy could sell a wind-energy complex and transmission line in northeastern South Dakota.

But the commissioners said the new owner, Northern States Power dba Xcel Energy, must assume responsibility for fixing local roads that were damaged as part of construction of the Crowned Ridge II project in Codington, Deuel and Grant counties.

Commissioner Chris Nelson said there “likely” would be need for significant repair or replacement. “This is a big issue. We know Xcel is a responsible company,” Nelson said.

Road conditions had been the heart of a lengthy discussion earlier this month on the related Crown Ridge project among commissioners, NextEra officials, Codington County highway superintendent Rick Hartley and intervenor Amber Christenson, who had pressed the matter.

Ryan Long, an Xcel attorney, said Wednesday there will be “a punch list” of items that need to be completed by the developer after the transfer, and 100 to 200% of the amounts related to those items would be withheld until the work was finished.

Commissioner Kristie Fiegen said all three commissioners have questions on the roads issue. “We expect excellence,” she told Xcel and NextEra officials on the phone call. “The escrow account should accommodate great road conditions,” Fiegen said.

Xcel’s Long said the transfer of the Crowned Ridge II permits would likely occur in November and would coincide with the project’s start of operations. Miles Schumacher, an attorney from Sioux Falls representing NextEra, said the company had always intended to sell the project to Xcel.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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