A North Dakota panel called for 5,000 megawatts of wind power by 2020. The state is falling short

The EmPower Commission, which reports to the Legislature and is responsible for “developing comprehensive energy policy recommendations” for the state, issued a report a decade ago that called for boosting wind generation to 5,000 megawatts by 2020. It noted the sparsely populated state had abundant wind and land available as well as “public support for wind development.”

But there is only about 3,150 megawatts of wind power in service here today, according to data provided by the Public Service Commission Thursday, June 13. Though more projects have been permitted, Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said the 5,000 megawatt figure “might be optimistic.”

“It’s going to be a stretch,” said Mark Nisbet, Xcel Energy’s principal manager in North Dakota who’s a member of the EmPower Commission. “We probably took that measurement right at the peak when there was quite a bit of wind being added.”

State lawmakers created the commission in 2007. It’s chaired by the state’s commerce commissioner, and the governor is required to appoint a dozen members representing various sectors of the energy industry, including oil, coal, wind and electric utilities.

Commerce Commissioner Michelle Kommer said the EmPower Commission would meet later this year to review its goals.

In a 2012

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