Wind project getting off the ground

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The proposed Upper Badlands Wind Development Project location is indicated in the sections in color on the map.

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Upper Badlands Wind Development LLC development officer John Husar, Jr., left, and managing member John Husar, Sr. are working to bring a wind energy project.

Upper Badlands Wind Development, LLC is in the process of developing a wind energy project in Dawson County that, if built, has the potential to bring a huge boost to the local economy.

The company is laying the groundwork for a wind farm north of Lindsay.

Upper Badlands Wind Development, LLC project manager John Husar and his son John Husar, Jr., officially announced the project last week, although pre-development plans began two years ago.

The plans include the installation of up to 89 wind turbine generators, according to Husar, Sr.

Based on wind speed and capacity factors, the developers estimate the project would produce enough energy to power 140,000 homes per year.

The company is working with three Lindsay-area families to lease land for the wind project. The majority of the land leased for the project is owned by Stortz Inc., Wolff and Sons Inc. and the Wyse family.

Husar, Sr. says he hopes to see the construction on the project begin in mid-2019.

“The project really got started when Western Area Power Administration signed the association agreement with Southwest Power Pool in late 2015,” Husar, Sr. said.,According to a press release from Upper Badlands, SPP transmits and controls energy supplied to the midwestern portion of the United States. This gives Upper Badlands the authority and a path to market and sell the renewable energy that is transmitted over the WAPA line into the SPP control area.

While Husar, Sr. began collecting wind data from the site two years ago, with the help of local resident Mike Carlson, he was able to gather information that went back much further. Carlson had preliminary wind studies from the project site beginning in 2003 going through 2014.

“He was very gracious to share his 10 years of wind data with us so we could verify the site,” Husar, Sr. said. “With his help, this enabled us to authorize funding for the pre-development efforts.”

While Upper Badlands is developing the Lindsay project, the financial backing comes from investors in Copenhagen, Denmark. The project is expected to cost $400 million.

“We are moving forward with some property tax and state mandated impact fee payment agreements that have to be finalized before our developing partners from Denmark formally commit to the project,” he said, adding that the process is going well so far.

Wind energy projects like Upper Badlands require a tremendous amount of research and development before the project actually gets off the ground.

With much of the research and predevelopment work done and land lease agreements nearly complete, Husar, Sr. said he believes there is a 70 percent probability that the Lindsay wind project will come to fruition.

If the project happens, it would have a tremendous economic impact in Dawson County.

Husar, Sr. said during peak construction, there will be between 200-250 workers on the project. He said he expects several local contractors to do subcontract work on the project.

“The creation of the jobs, services and employment will be a big shot in the arm for Glendive,” Husar, Sr. said.

Once the project is up and running, there will be 10 to 15 full-time employees working at the site and in the office. The facility would include a a fire truck and emergency ambulance service with the trained personnel on site during the life of the project, Husar, Sr. stated.

The company would be required to pay impact fees to the county as mandated by the state. Husar, Sr. said that would amount to about $250,000 per year for three years.

Upper Badlands developers estimate that the property tax paid to Dawson County could be over $28 million for the first 10 years of the project, increasing to $50 million for the following 10 years.

The company will put a tax reduction request before the county commissioners, something that is provided for in state law. According to the Dawson County Commissioners March 20 meeting agenda, the commissioners will set a public hearing for the Upper Badlands Wind Development LLC for April 17.

Meanwhile, environmental studies for wildlife, cultural resources and eagle studies are ongoing. This week, a helicopter survey of the area to look for eagle nest locations was completed.

Husar, Sr. is no stranger to the Glendive area. In 1974 he moved from Los Angeles, Calif. to play basketball for Dawson College. While in Glendive, he met his wife, Glendive native Debbie Larsen.

Husar, Sr. has been involved in wind plant development since 1995. Husar’s Montana wind projects include a project near Reedpoint, which went under construction in 2017 and the Mud Springs project south of Billings that is scheduled to begin construction in the summer of 2018. He is also working with the Cedar Brook project near Red Lodge, which is also in the pre-development stage.

Reach Jamie Ausk Crisafulli at rreditor@rangerreview.com.

“The creation of the jobs, services and employment will be a big shot in the arm for Glendive,”
John Husar, Sr., Project Manager

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