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Published May 05, 2011, 06:47 PM

ND Regulators Approve Rolette County Wind Farm

State regulators on Thursday approved a site plan for a proposed 150-megawatt wind energy development near the Canadian border in north-central North Dakota.

By: Dale Wetzel, Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — State regulators on Thursday approved a site plan for a proposed 150-megawatt wind energy development near the Canadian border in north-central North Dakota.

The Border Winds project is being developed by Sequoia Energy U.S. Inc., a unit of Sequoia Energy, which is based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The company first announced the project three years ago.

Tony Clark, president of the North Dakota Public Service Commission, said Thursday the company has said it intends to begin construction this summer and finish within a year.

The project includes 66 wind turbines, each capable of generating about 2.3 megawatts of power, spread out over 52 square miles of land about three miles north of Rolla in Rolette County, which shares a northern border with Manitoba.

Utility filings say Sequoia intends to invest about $360 million in the project. A Sequoia official did not respond Thursday to telephone and electronic mail messages requesting comment.

The wind farm, if completed, would increase North Dakota's wind energy generation capacity by more than 10 percent. North Dakota now has about 1,424 megawatts of wind power generation operating, according to the American Wind Energy Association, a trade group.

The pace of wind development in North Dakota has slowed along with the recent economic downturn, but Clark and Commissioner Kevin Cramer said it still made sense for Sequoia to go ahead.

"There was a lot invested in this project, not just money, but time as well," Cramer said. "To me, it makes sense that they would continue at least this part of the process, to get the project sited."

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