Coal, Wind

North Dakota Legislature Proposes Two-Year Moratorium on Wind Development

By Editors of Power Engineering

North Dakota’s legislature will soon consider an amended bill that would prevent the state’s Public Service Commission from approving an application for a wind facility for two years.

If approved, the moratorium would take effect on August 1, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

State Senator Dwight Cook, R-Mandan, said the bill is intended to guarantee North Dakota has a “reliable and affordable source of electricity” and to “save coal.” Cook said lawmakers should take the time to determine what effect additional wind energy projects will have.

Cook also noted Great River Energy’s plan to close the coal-fired Stanton Station by May, due to low prices in the regional energy market.  

Sen. Jessica Unruh, R-Beulah and the bill’s primary sponsor, said wind energy is “heavily subsidized” by the federal government, and that “if everybody is paying taxes fairly and being regulated fairly, I think the market will work itself out.”

Carlee McLeod, president of the Utility Shareholders of North Dakota, spoke against the moratorium, and said it’s important for North Dakota utilities to have flexibility in their portfolios, and energy companies will simply build wind facilities in other states.

“It’s not really the North Dakota way to shut down a whole industry,” she said.

Randy Christmann, chairman of the North Dakota Public Service Commission, said the state added 1,000 MW of wind power from May 2016 through March of this year, with 2,000 MW added over the course of 10 years.