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Erica Dischino / Tribune Wind turbines are a source of renewable energy created in the Willmar area. Willmar Municipal Utilities electric customers interested in supporting renewable energy will soon be able to purchase renewable energy certificates through the utilities as part of a new program.

SD Public Utilities Commission approves 53,000-acre Crowned Ridge wind farm near Watertown

PIERRE, S.D. — The Public Utilities Commission has given the green light for construction to begin on a 300-megawatt, 130-turbine wind farm in northeastern South Dakota.

The PUC at their Tuesday, July 9, meeting approved the permit, with exceptions, for Crowned Ridge Wind, LLC's planned wind farm to span 53,186 acres throughout Grant and Codington counties, according to a news release from the commission. With the state permits in place, Crowned Ridge said it plans to complete the $400 million construction project by 2020.

The PUC in its final approval placed 46 conditions on the permit, addressing residents' concerns about sound levels, shadow flicker, funding for decommissioned turbines and more. PUC Commissioner Kristie Fiegen said the conditions addressed concerns the PUC heard throughout the application process.

"What we have landed on is a combination that works for the residents of the area, for the applicant and for the state," she said.

Five residents of Strandburg, Twin Brooks and Watertown intervened in the project.

The Crowned Ridge wind farm will be composed of as many as 130 wind turbines, which will generate up to 300 megawatts of energy. Northern States Power Company's Xcel Energy will purchase the energy produced by the farm.

According to the PUC's news release, a separate application for a Crowned Ridge II wind farm is expected to be filed, which the commission will have nine months to review. The Legislature during the 2019 session extended the commission's application review window.