The North Dakota Public Service Commission has approved the first set of wind farm decommissioning plans following new rule changes approved in 2017.
The Commission has overseen reclamation of coal mining in North Dakota since 1970 and used that experience in developing the new rules. The rules ensure that wind farms are removed and the land reclaimed when operations cease. With wind generation expanding in the state and the projects growing in size, the PSC has expressed concern about the potential for abandoned projects in the future.
According to Commission Chairman Randy Christmann, “A half century ago our ancestors made a commitment to ensure our coal mines would be reclaimed when the prairie became quiet again. These decommissioning rules demonstrate a renewed commitment by our generation to ensure that North Dakota’s beautiful landscape will be returned to its splendor when these giant wind turbines reach the end of their useful lives.”
The new rules were approved by the PSC in May of 2017, effective July 1, 2017. The Commission requested that existing facilities submit plans by July 1, 2018. Projects sited before July 1, 2017 must submit financial assurances for decommissioning after their tenth year of operation. Projects sited after July 1, 2017 must submit financial assurances before commencing construction.