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Nearly 100 industry leaders, policy-makers, developers, consultants and landowners recently gathered in Bismarck, N.D., to discuss how new federal and state policies are expected to influence wind development in the state.

North Dakota Department of Commerce Commissioner Shane Goettle told attendees that the state's superior wind resource and supportive policies make it an ideal place to develop wind.

Wind developers shared how they match their economic models with the risk/reward profile of the particular communities in which they work.

Tim Seck from wind project developer Iberdrola Renewables explained how the company has partnered with local communities with lower risk thresholds to offer a revenue participation model, in which Iberdrola owns 100% of the project but pays landowners a stream of revenue from the production of wind energy.

Developers and other industry professionals also focused on how they saw the energy provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009 affecting their business models. The general consensus was that each developer would run multiple economic assumptions through a project pro forma to analyze whether the federal production tax credit, investment tax credit, or cash grant in lieu of the investment tax credit would be most beneficial for a particular project.

Speakers also touched on the challenges of developing wind projects in North Dakota. Transmission constraints and environmental challenges were identified as having the potential to limit future development in the state.

Despite concern over the identified economic, transmission and environmental challenges facing wind developers, conference participants remained optimistic that the wind resource in North Dakota would continue to drive development and that the state would serve as a key resource in meeting the increasing demand for renewable energy.

SOURCE: Fredrikson & Byron

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