NEAR KULM, N.D. — Xcel Energy invited government officials, construction partners and local landowners to celebrate the Foxtail Wind Project on Wednesday, Aug. 14, in Dickey County, 10 miles south of Kulm.
The event was inspired by American Wind Week, a week of nationally recognizing wind power as one of the country's emerging primary sources of renewable energy.
"Wind energy supplies about 26% of our electricity in North Dakota, which is the fourth-highest percentage in the United States," said North Dakota Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford.
The Foxtail Wind Project, which costs an estimated $200 million, began construction in Dickey County in May 2018 and is projected to be fully in service next month. The project includes 75 Vestas wind turbines and is the company's third project in the state, coming as an effort from Xcel Energy to reduce carbon emissions in the Upper Midwest by 80% by 2030.
"Per capita, we are the number one state for wind-generated power," Sanford said. "North Dakota may represent only two-tenths of 1% of the nation's population, but as of May of 2019, we are now ranked 9th in the nation for total megawatts generated by wind."
The wind turbines will operate with the help of Airtonomy, a Grand Forks-based technology company implementing an aircraft detection lighting system to control the amount of lighting coming from the turbines. The ADLS system will activate red lights on the wind turbines for nearby aircraft.
"Those lights will come on really only when they are needed, which is to alert an aircraft in the area that there is a wind farm here," said Jule Fedorchak, commissioner, North Dakota Public Service Commission. "Otherwise, the night's sky will be dark and basically when it's dark outside, the wind farm will be invisible to people.
"You'll have your night sky illuminated by the stars," Fredorchak said. "It's a great way to mitigate one of the complaints about wind and make it more tolerable to all the people living around it."
Teresa Mogensen, senior vice president of Xcel Energy, said the Foxtail Wind Project will provide enough energy to power the equivalent of 80,000 homes.
"Nearly 20% of our energy supplied company-wide comes from wind energy," Mogensen said. "That is 7 times the amount of wind generation in our system in 2005."
The Foxtail Wind Project has also created 275 construction jobs and approximately 10 full-time operations positions, according to Xcel Energy, and will have provided over $30 million in payments to landowners over the span of the project.
Wind energy has created jobs across the entire country, according to Kaitlin Monaghan, a representative of the American Wind Energy Association.
"There are 115,000 wind workers across the U.S.," Monaghan said. "The U.S. Department of Labor has announced that the wind technician is the second-fastest growing job in America."
Monaghan said American veterans have been one of the greatest beneficiaries of the economic growth in wind energy. "The U.S. wind industry hires American veterans at a rate of 67% higher than the national average."
Installation of wind turbines delivered from a rail yard in Pingree began in June in Dickey County for the project and will continue until the project is complete.