North Dakota regulators have approved plans for a $300 million wind farm

North Dakota regulators have approved plans for a $300 million wind farm in southwestern Adams County, after discussion about whether the state already generates enough of the renewable energy.

The state Public Service Commission voted 2-1 Wednesday to approve the Thunder Spirit Wind LLC project, which is to include up to 75 turbines near Hettinger, The Bismarck Tribune reported. Construction is to begin late this year or early next year, and take about nine months to complete.

Developers of the wind farm have said it will generate hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in landowner payments and taxes. Some area landowners opposed the farm, fearing it will be an eyesore and create noise problems.

Public Service Commissioner Randy Christmann cast the lone vote against the project, saying Thunder Spirit Wind has not yet found a buyer for the power that will be generated and that the project should “show how it fits” into the state’s energy picture.

Christmann cited legislation passed in 2007 that set an objective of having 10 percent of the state’s energy production come from renewable sources including wind by 2015.

“Clearly that 10 percent objective has been met and surpassed,” Christmann said.

Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said she thinks the electricity generated by the wind farm will be used in the northwestern oil patch, where power is in high demand. She also said the 10 percent renewable energy objective was not likely meant to be a set limit.