It may not happen until sometime next decade, but developers of a potential Turkey Ridge wind farm want to make sure that Yankton County citizens are aware of the project well in advance.
During Tuesday’s meeting of the Yankton County Commission, Michael Kurnik, a representative of the Orion Renewable Energy Group, laid out the plans for a 300 megawatt (MW), 24,000-acre wind farm that would straddle the Yankton and Turner County lines.
He said the land acquisition phase is continuing in Yankton County.
"Of that 24,000 acres, approximately 6,000 acres has been signed in Yankton County," Kurnik said. "There’s still several thousand acres more that we would like to continue to negotiate with private landowners up there. The two townships are Mayfield and Turkey Valley in the northeast of the county."
Kurnik said that a definite number of wind turbines is unknown at this stage.
"Depending on the turbine technology, that could be in the range of 100-150 wind turbines," he said. "We don’t know exactly what wind turbine we’ll use at the moment."
He said the timeline for the project stretches into the next decade and that this extended timeline could mean fewer than 150 turbines.
"Most likely, 2021 would be optimistic — 2022 is probably the most accurate timeline to achieve all of the development requirements," he said. "In that time, turbine technology can change. Typically we’ve found in the industry, the megawatt rating of each turbine has gone up. I would assume that we could be look at a 2.5 megawatt machine to a 3 megawatt machine, so that gives you approximately 100-125 turbine locations."
During his presentation, Kurnik said the goal was to be before the county’s Planning & Zoning Commission in late 2020, with permitting happening the following year.
Kurnik said that it was best to make the public aware of the project in a timely manner.
"We’re still doing some dilligencing on the side," he said. "It’s always a bit of a balance to find how early to come in and introduce a project when it might all go away, but balancing it with not coming too late where people have heard about it and everybody’s wondering what’s going on."
He added that, so far, there’s been generally positive reception to the proposal.
"We’ve got more land signed than people who have said no," he said. "It’s something that you have with development. As a private developer, we’ve got to go ask the question — some people say yes, some people say no and then we design around that."
No action was taken on the informational agenda item.
While the potential wind farm is years off, football season is just over a week away and so is the prospect of the Yankton School District paying newly implemented ambulance fees to have a standby crew at football games.
Ryan Mors, activities director for Yankton High School, was on hand along with athletic trainer Trevor Woods and head Bucks head football coach Brady Muth to ask that the commission waive the fees.
Mors said the decision to add fees came as a surprise to the district.
"All of us — whether it’s a school district, a city or a county — we all have budgets that we have to deal with," Mors said. "Our school budget is set for this entire school year. … We budget for our officials, we budget for our equipment, we budget for our travel, we budget for everything. Ambulance service was not something we did not budget for, obviously, because we’ve been fortunate to have it provided for us in the past."
The ambulance fees would apply to the three home games and up to two potential home playoff games. The year’s first game, set for Aug. 30, is covered under last year’s county budget.
Commission chairman Dan Klimisch said that it was important to keep in mind that Yankton County EMS is having financial issues.
"Right now, it is losing the county a lot of money and we don’t know how long we’re going to be able to have an ambulance service if we continue to keep losing money at the rate we are," Klimisch said. "It’s a great service that we have that we can provide to you, but if it comes to the point where we can’t afford it anymore, then you’re going to lose out on it and so are all of our citizens. That puts us in a tough position."
No action was taken Tuesday and the matter will be addressed at the Sept. 3 meeting.
Commissioner Don Kettering was absent during Tuesday’s meeting. Klimisch asked for the thoughts and prayers of the audience due to Kettering’s hospitalization. Commissioner Cheri Loest was absent for the first half of the meeting.
In other business Tuesday, the board:
• Deferred action on the 2020 budget until Kettering’s return.
• Approved two drainage applications.
• Approved a number of entrance applications and right of way requests.
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