BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's Agriculture Department is launching a program to help landowners resolve concerns related to wind energy development.

The program will allow a landowner or tenant to work with a department ombudsman if they're dissatisfied by a wind energy company's response regarding the reclamation of their property. The ombudsman can then evaluate the site, contact the wind company and work to resolve the issues.

The program is similar to an initiative developed in 2015 related to pipeline construction, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said Monday that the program fills a need for landowners at a time when North Dakota will likely develop more wind farms.

"It's meant to enhance communications, but it's also meant to remove that emotional aspect from it," Goehring said.

The program also hopes to provide educational outreach to help landowners before they sign agreements with wind companies.

"We're trying to get out ahead of this to do more on the front end," Goehring said.

Lawmakers directed the department to create the ombudsman program. It was done in cooperation with the state Public Service Commission, which regulates wind farms.

The commission occasionally receives landowner complaints related to wind companies that fail to properly reconstruct fences or adequately restore roads used during construction, said Chairman Randy Christmann.

Property owners can also bring a complaint to the commission if an ombudsman can't resolve the issue.

"I'm glad to see they're moving forward with it," Christmann said. "There's potentially a lot of wind farm construction in the next couple years here."


Information from: Bismarck Tribune,