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Company to unveil wind farm proposal

Clay County residents will get a glimpse tonight of details for a proposed wind farm that could bring 134 turbines and 27 miles of new access roads.

The Noble Flat Hill Windpark, located about 12 miles northeast of Moorhead, would be capable of generating 201 megawatts of electricity, enough to power to more than 50,000 homes.

Details of the proposal will be presented at a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the Glyndon Community Center conducted by the Minnesota Office of Energy Security.

"This public meeting is the very first step of getting public input of what should be considered," Raymond Kirsch, a planner and public adviser for the Office of Energy Security, said Tuesday.

The wind farm, pending before Minnesota regulators, is proposed by Noble Environmental Power, a Connecticut company that has developed more than 3,800 megawatts of wind capacity in eight states.

The firm has secured leases for about 11,500 acres of the 20,000 acres that would be used in the project. The wind farm would be in Spring Prairie and Moland townships.

The project, with an estimated cost of $450 million, also involves a transmission line of about 10 miles and a power substation.

"It's a pretty good-sized project," Kirsch said.

Executives of Noble Environmental Power couldn't be reached Tuesday for comment, but said earlier that the project would contribute $800,000 or more in local property tax revenues and has the support of 65 landowners who have signed leases with the company.

Wind projects in Minnesota have been spurred by the state's renewable energy standard, which calls for 25 percent of the state's electricity to be generated from renewable energy sources by 2025.

Facilities will be built on the west side of Minnesota Highway 9 to avoid affecting wildlife management areas, Buffalo River State Park, and The Nature Conservancy's Bluestem Prairie Preserve, according to the project's application.

Buffalo River State Park is about 5½ miles southeast of the proposed wind farm.

The Minnesota Office of Energy Security will conduct an environmental impact study for the project, which likely would be finished in late summer, with a public hearing to follow in late summer or early fall, Kirsch said.