Boards discuss southern Sanborn County wind farm

MYRON SONNE of the Sanborn County Planning and Zoning Board poses a question to Corey Juhl of Juhl Energy, Pipestone, Minn.

MYRON SONNE of the Sanborn County Planning and Zoning Board poses a question to Corey Juhl of Juhl Energy, Pipestone, Minn.

The Sanborn County Commissioners and Zoning Board met in a special informational meeting with a representative of a Pipestone, Minn., wind energy company Tuesday morning to discuss a proposed wind farm to be built south of Letcher.
Corey Juhl of Juhl Energy addressed the boards Tuesday morning, calling the project a series of “community wind farms” of just nine to 15 towers. Juhl Energy built the wind farm north of Kimball in Brule County and currently has a project approved near White Lake in Aurora County.
The proposed Sanborn County farm would be located south of Letcher. Juhl says the company is still in discussion with the landowners. The total area of the farm would be between one and one and a quarter sections.
Juhl said that the turbines in this particular site would be no closer than 1,500 feet from the nearest dwelling.
The three sites along the I90 corridor would be linked in order to increase buying power with the energy companies. The Letcher site would use the same NorthWestern Energy line currently running from Letcher by Loomis and towards Mitchell.
Davison County recently denied Juhl Energy’s permit to build the farm there. Juhl says he is unsure what their reasoning was and that their company had never been denied a permit until then.
Brian McGinnis of the Planning and Development District III was available via conference call for the meeting. He helped lay out the process for such a project and options for ordinances that may be put in place and guidelines to follow. He stated that there are several ordinances available from which to model a local one.
“I will make sure the county is protected,” McGinnis said, when concerns of road maintenance and costs to the county were raised.
Juhl said there would be no costs to the county, save some extra time administratively. He stated that Juhl Energy would agree to any regulations the county sees fit and be 100 percent responsible for any costs associated with the farm, including road usage and repairs.
He added that the company hopes to hire graduates from Mitchell Technical Institute for the project that, paperwork and weather permitting, they are hoping to begin construction on this summer. Nine of the 446-foot towers can be built within three months.
Following Tuesday’s informational meeting and after finalizing the contracts with the landowners, the next step is the permitting process and then the commissioners and zoning board can vote to allow or deny the project.

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