PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A state government panel that oversees aircraft and airports is sending a letter of concern about a wind-electricity project proposed in central South Dakota.

The Aeronautics Commission approved a draft of the letter Wednesday at a special meeting.

The decision came after a 30-minute executive session with some state Department of Transportation staff, including Secretary Joel Jundt.

The letter will be sent to the state Public Utilities Commission, which is considering whether to grant a permit to the North Bend Wind Project.

The project application calls for as many as 71 turbine towers in western Hyde and eastern Hughes counties and is estimated to cost $265 million or more. The utilities commission hasn’t yet set a formal schedule for the permit hearing.

Michael Bollweg, a Hughes County landowner, and his attorney brought concerns to aeronautics commission members on March 17, 2022.

The deadline to formally intervene was August 23, 2021.

The aeronautics letter expresses the panel members’ desire for caution, chairman Eric Odenbach of Eureka said.

“We’ve decided this is what we’re going to give to the PUC,” Odenbach said. Noting the period to intervene had expired, he said the letter is “the best path forward.”

“That’s all we have legal authority to do, is to make a comment,” Odenbach said.