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Ordinance could kill Clay County wind project

Paul White has a keen interest in the public hearing set for 11 a.m. July 14 before the Clay County Commission, where an ordinance regulating small-scale wind projects will be discussed. White is president of Project Resources Corp., the company behind the Lakeswind Power Plant, a proposed wind farm that would include part of Clay County. ..."It could kill our project,” he said.

Paul White has a keen interest in the public hearing set for 11 a.m. July 14 before the Clay County Commission, where an ordinance regulating small-scale wind projects will be discussed.

White is president of Project Resources Corp., the company behind the Lakeswind Power Plant, a proposed wind farm that would include part of Clay County.

White doesn’t hold back when discussing the potential impact of the ordinance.

“It could kill our project,” he said.

The proposed rules, which have received approval from the Clay County Planning Commission, would officially cover projects of less than five megawatts.

However, state regulators would have to consider the county standards when they decide whether to issue permits for larger projects, like Lakeswind, which is looking to generate approximately 55 megawatts of power.

One area of Clay County’s draft ordinance that White objects to is the county’s proposed setback rule, which would require wind towers be 1,500 feet away from neighboring homes.

The state standard is 500 feet.

White said he doesn’t understand Clay County’s push for such a restrictive rule, when he said Minnesota’s standards are viewed by many as “the gold standard” for wind regulations in the country.

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Paul White has a keen interest in the public hearing set for 11 a.m. July 14 before the Clay County Commission, where an ordinance regulating small-scale wind projects will be discussed.

White is president of Project Resources Corp., the company behind the Lakeswind Power Plant, a proposed wind farm that would include part of Clay County.

White doesn’t hold back when discussing the potential impact of the ordinance.

“It could kill our project,” he said.

The proposed rules, which have received approval from the Clay County Planning Commission, would officially cover projects of less than five megawatts.

However, state regulators would have to consider the county standards when they decide whether to issue permits for larger projects, like Lakeswind, which is looking to generate approximately 55 megawatts of power.

One area of Clay County’s draft ordinance that White objects to is the county’s proposed setback rule, which would require wind towers be 1,500 feet away from neighboring homes.

The state standard is 500 feet.

White said he doesn’t understand Clay County’s push for such a restrictive rule, when he said Minnesota’s standards are viewed by many as “the gold standard” for wind regulations in the country.

“Other states look to Minnesota as a model,” said White, adding that in the decade or so wind farms have been established under the state’s rules, very few complaints have cropped up.

White said his company is still trying to determine how the proposed ordinance might impact a project, and he said a decision has not been made regarding the type, size and number of towers the project may entail.

A landowner whose property could become part of Lakeswind said the company told him it is looking at erecting 20 or 30 towers, with about a third of those located in Clay County.

The rest would be in Becker and Otter Tail Counties, according to Ellis Aakre of rural Rollag, Minn., who said he can see benefits from a wind farm beyond the financial gain that he and family members might realize.

Aakre said somebody has to produce the power Americans consume, and he said President Barack Obama has called for expanding the country’s wind power potential.

Bruce Bang, whose rural Rollag property is also being considered as a tower site, said only a small number of Clay County residents have voiced concerns about Lakeswind, while all of those within the project area are for it.

That isn’t surprising, said Clay County Planner Tim Magnusson, who said the ordinance is intended to protect the interests of all property owners in the county.

He said the county’s proposed rules are somewhat based on a model developed by a consortium of Minnesota groups, including county planning and zoning administrators.

It is also similar, he said, to an ordinance adopted in Murray County, in southwest Minnesota.

Magnusson said Minnesota law is not clear on the question of how county rules might affect a project that falls under state oversight.

“I don’t think they (the proposed rules) will adversely impact anybody,” he said.

White said he would prefer that his company and the county be of one mind regarding what is a suitable blueprint for wind development.

“Our goal will be to communicate what is reasonable, what is workable, so we can come to mutually agreeable design standards,” said White.


Source: http://www.inforum.com/even...

JUL 4 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/20986-ordinance-could-kill-clay-county-wind-project
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