North Dakota amended bill seeks to halt wind development for two years
An amendment to a bill under consideration in North Dakota would pause wind power development in the state for two years, according to media reports.
The amendment, introduced by Sen. Dwight Cook (R), would bar the state’s Public Service Commission from approving a wind power plant between Aug. 1, 2017 and Aug. 1, 2019.
Under the bill, the legislature would undertake a management study during the term of the moratorium on the state’s long term energy plan.
North Dakota’s coal plants are suffering as wind power gains ground. But lawmakers in the state are looking to reverse or at least slow that trend.
An amendment that would put a moratorium on wind power development in the state also calls for a study that would consider multiple sources of energy, including coal, wind and hydroelectric and an assessment of their sustainability and reliability, as well as an assessment of how “the present tax environment affects the availability of energy from various sources; and the distribution of revenue from energy sources.”
North Dakota has about 5.5% of U.S. coal reserves, but coal plants in the state are under economic pressure from cheap natural gas, as are coal plants in many other parts of the country. In July, Great River Energy said it planned to close its 189-MW Stanton coal plant in Mercer County, because low energy prices have made the plant uneconomic.
“Coal plants are shutting down, and my assumption is wind generation has something to do with it,” Cook told the Associated Press.
According to energynd, North Dakota has 1,884 MW of wind capacity, as well as another 2,770 MW of wind projects under construction or in development.
In 2014, 75% of North Dakota's electricity generation came from coal. Almost 17.5% of the state’s electricity was generated from wind, and about 7% from hydroelectric power stations, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
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