On Wind Park Permit, Judge Rules For South Dakota Commissioners

KELO Court Gavel

A state judge has ruled the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission doesn’t need to hold another hearing on a permit granted last year for a $300 million wind-electricity development in some rural southern counties.

Circuit Judge Cheryle Gering made the decision Monday. She issued a one-page denial of appeals and an affirmation of the PUC permit late Tuesday afternoon. 

Development company sPower received the state commission’s official approval on November 28 to construct Prevailing Wind Park in Hutchinson, Bon Homme and Charles Mix counties.

Electricity from the 61 turbines would connect to a nearby Western Area Power Administration line..

Gregg and Marsha Hubner of rural Avon and appealed the permit decision on December 26. Reese Almond, an attorney from the Davenport Evans firm in Sioux Falls, represented them.

Attorneys Lisa Agrimonti of Minneapolis and Joseph Erickson of Watertown represented the developer.

The sides presented arguments Monday at the Bon Homme County Courthouse in Tyndall.

The case involved disputes about sound from the turbines, allowing witnesses’ testimony, setback distances and whether the state law setting the six-month period for reaching a permit decision violated the Hubners’ property rights.

The state commission’s 42-page decision said no party provided evidence sufficient to require turbines be at least two miles from non-participating property owners or 1,500 feet from any property line. 

The Legislature has since expanded the permitting period to nine months for wind projects. The nine-month period takes effect July 1.

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