South Dakota regulators delay setting hearing on proposed Hyde County wind farm

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PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — An evidentiary hearing won’t start next month after all for a big wind farm planned in central South Dakota.

The state Public Utilities Commission was going to set the schedule Thursday, with a hearing tentatively slated to begin June 25.

But a lawyer for the commission’s staff said she and others were still working with the developer and asked for more time.

The Triple H Wind Project is proposed for Hyde County. It would have 92 turbines and generate up to 250 megawatts of electricity.

The 27,000-acre spread is all on private property about three miles south of Highmore, in Eagle, Chapelle, Highmore and Holabird townships.

Unlike other wind farms that have drawn opponents, the only parties this time are the company, ENGIE North America, based in Santa Barbara, California, and the commission’s staff.

The deadline for any other partyto intervene in the docket was April 8.

ENGIE recently acquired the Dakota Range Wind III project in Grant and Roberts counties in northeastern South Dakota.

On the Triple H application, commission staff attorney Kristen Edwards had filed a motion April 9 requesting a procedural schedule leading to a June 25 permit hearing.

But Thursday she asked to withdraw the motion and put off the hearing.

Brett Koenecke, a Pierre lawyer representing the Triple H project, agreed with her request to delay.

“Staff is efficiently and doggedly putting us through our paces and we’re getting to where we need to go,” Koenecke told commissioners.

Commission Chairman Gary Hanson said there are several wind projects pending permit approval.

The commission has six months under current state law to process wind applications. That will change to nine months for wind projects filed after July 1.

“We have so many of them before us right now,” Hanson said.

Edwards said she didn’t think it would be a problem meeting the six-month deadline. Triple H applied for a South Dakota permit February 6.

“We’re down to a few issues,” she told commissioners.

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