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Officials approve key step for wind farms

WILLMAR -- Commissioners from three county boards gave permission Tuesday for two wind farms to bury transmission lines under drainage ditches that the three entities share.

The action will allow Adams Wi-nd Generations of Co-smos and Danielson Wind Farm of Atwater to bore under the South Fork of the Crow River, wh-ich is also Judicial Ditch 1.

The permission also extends to borings under Judicial Ditch 29-C and 18.

The farms intend to erect 24 wind turbines yet this fall, including burying transmission lines to carry the wind-generated electricity.

All the borings under ditches will take place in Meeker County but because representatives from Kandiyohi, Renville and Meeker counties make up the various ditch authorities, their approval was also needed.

One issue that had to be settled was how deep the lines were to be buried under the ditch bottom and slopes.

Kandiyohi and Meeker counties have policies stating a 48-inch depth is required while Renville County has a 60-inch requirement.

Kandiyohi County Commissioner Harlan Madsen said he wanted to avoid an incident that could hamper the ditch authority's efforts to maintain the ditch safely.

He relayed an incident on a drainage ditch in the county where a high-pressure gas line was installed in the water. When the ditch was cleaned out, it was impossible to use a backhoe without risking rupture of the pipe line, and hand-digging was thus required.

Madsen urged the group to require a minimum 60-inch depth. Since the transmission lines are being installed by boring, and not with a trench, he said it won't be more difficult for the developer to go deeper.

The group also agreed to adopt the policies included in a public drainage system protection agreement that was approved earlier in the day by the Meeker County Board of Commissioners.

Having a common policy in place when future projects are proposed will eliminate the hassle of getting members from three different boards together to make decisions, said Madsen.

Ron Mortenson, Meeker County Engineer, said the ditch authority sets the policy that the developer must follow. Without a policy in place, developers can use the state standards, which are reportedly less restrictive.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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