South Dakota PUC approves permit to construct North Bend Wind Farm in Hughes and Hyde Counties

The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission approved a siting permit for the North Bend Wind Project, a wind energy facility slated for Hyde and Hughes counties capable of generating up to 200 megawatts of energy. The action by the PUC was taken during its regular meeting on Jan. 5, 2023, in Pierre.

North Bend Wind and PUC staff filed a settlement stipulation with the commission on Dec. 13, 2022. The agreement specified 45 conditions that must be adhered to during the construction and operation of the project. Land and road restoration, shadow flicker, noise levels, ice detection and ice throw, post-construction grouse lek monitoring and decommissioning are all among the issues the conditions address.

“It’s obvious that significant negotiations have taken place between parties to get us to this point. My concern is for landowners; to ensure that reclamation will be done properly and that things will be made whole for landowners once construction is done,” said PUC Chairman Chris Nelson. “Largely, the conditions parties have stipulated to have worked for other wind farm permits that have been issued by the PUC. It’s my belief that landowners will be protected in the issuing of this permit,” Nelson stated.

PUC Vice Chairperson Kristie Fiegen reflected the important role that PUC staff play in each siting docket brought before the commission. “Our staff take their role in protecting all landowners and citizens very seriously and I really appreciate the countless hours they work to protect the land and interests of both participants and non-participants alike. Including a condition related to aerial spraying is a great example of that dedication,” she said.

North Bend Wind, LLC filed its application with the commission on June 23, 2021, starting the clock on a statutory nine-month review period that included a public input meeting held in Pierre in August 2021. In both November 2021 and February 2022, the company filed requests to extend the deadline for a commission decision, thereby extending the PUC’s review period. 

Intervenors participating in the North Bend Wind docket included Judi Bollweg, individually and on behalf of the Tumbleweed Lodge and Bollweg Family, LLLP, and Michael Bollweg, individually and on behalf of Bollweg Family, LLLP. The commission granted their intervention in September 2021 and granted their request to withdraw from the docket at this week’s meeting.

“It is nearly always to the benefit of intervenors when parties negotiate and resolve issues prior to the commission making a final decision. Those negotiations not only allowed the intervenors to withdraw today, but also eliminated the need for a hearing in this docket saving a great deal of time and resources,” stated Commissioner Gary Hanson.

The project will include up to 71 wind turbines and will span approximately 46,931 acres of land in Hyde and Hughes counties. Other components of the project will include access roads and associated facilities, underground 34.5-kilovolt electrical collector lines, underground fiber-optic cable, a 34.5-kV to 230-kV collection substation, a 230-kV interconnection switching station, an aircraft detection lighting system and one permanent meteorological tower.

North Bend Wind estimates construction of the wind farm will cost $265 million to $285 million. The project will interconnect to Western Area Power Administration’s Fort Thompson-Oahe 230-kV transmission line, which crosses the southern portion of the project area. The project is owned by ENGIE North America and is anticipated to be operational in late 2023. Basin Electric Power Cooperative will purchase the power produced by the wind project.

The North Bend Wind Project docket can be viewed on the PUC’s website at, Commission Actions, Electric Dockets, 2021 Electric Dockets, EL21-018 – In the Matter of the Application by North Bend Wind Project, LLC for a Permit to Construct and Operate the North Bend Wind Project in Hyde County and Hughes County.

JULY 28, 2022:

After 2.5 hours of testimony, the Hughes County Board of Adjustment voted 4-1 to approve a conditional use permit for a 200 megawatt wind project in eastern Hughes County.

However, that approval is contingent upon the county and the project contractor agreeing to language of an amendment to the original permit that says the contractor has to pay for the cost of interim road inspections.

The North Bend Wind Project is a 200 megawatt project in Hyde and Hughes counties. As proposed, it would consist of up to 71 wind turbine generators, with up to 27 of those being in Hughes County.

Engie North America’s wind project would be interconnected to Western Area Power Administration’s (WAPA) existing Fort Thompson to Oahe 230 kilovolt transmission line at a new switchyard that would be constructed in Hyde County.

Each wind turbine would have a height of 290 feet (88.5 meters) and a rotor diameter of 416 feet (127 meters) with a total height of 499 feet (152 meters). These turbines are slightly taller than the turbine model installed in conjunction with the Triple H Wind Project in Hyde County.

North Bend would include additional infrastructure and facilities, including but not limited to, 16-foot-wide permanent access roads leading to each turbine, up to two permanent meteorological towers, a temporary construction laydown yard, and a 34.5 kV underground electrical collection system. Electricity generated by the WTGs will be collected at a central project substation where the voltage will be stepped up from 34.5kV to 230 kV.

JULY 26, 2022:

Today (July 26, 2022) at noon is the deadline to submit written documents to the Hughes County Board of Adjustment for consideration during tomorrow’s public hearing on the proposed North Bend Wind Project in eastern Hughes County.

The Hughes County Board of Adjustment will consider a conditional use permit for the Project at a public hearing tomorrow (July 27, 2022) at 5:30pm in the large courtroom on the third floor of the Hughes County Courthouse in Pierre.

The North Bend Wind Project is a 200 megawatt project. As proposed, it would consist of up to 71 wind turbine generators, with up to 27 of those being in Hughes County.

While the public is encouraged to present their testimony to the Board of Adjustment, there will be a time limit for each person and a person’s time is not transferable to another person. Hughes County will also accept written testimony, but again, those documents must be submitted by noon today. To submit comments:

  • email
  • drop them off at the Hughes County Planning and Zoning Office on the second floor of the courthouse