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Minnesota PUC seeks comments on wind farm rules

Minnesota regulators are inviting public comments on standards intended to protect residents from wind turbine noise. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, in response to growing concerns from residents in Clay County and elsewhere, is seeking comments on its setback standards for wind farms. ...The MPUC is soliciting comments to determine if current setback conditions "remain appropriate and reasonable," in light of the health department review.

Minnesota regulators are inviting public comments on standards intended to protect residents from wind turbine noise.

Minnesota regulators are inviting public comments on standards intended to protect residents from wind turbine noise.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, in response to growing concerns from residents in Clay County and elsewhere, is seeking comments on its setback standards for wind farms.

The decision to invite comments on the issue follows a recent review of scientific studies by Minnesota health officials of public health effects from wind turbines, including noise, low-frequency vibrations and a light-flickering effect.

Per Anderson, a Moorhead resident who is concerned about effects from the proposed Lakeswind Power Plant near Barnesville, welcomed the announcement.

"The activists I've been hearing from around the state are calling it huge, they're using the word ‘huge,' " Anderson said.

Anderson and his wife were planning to build a home in Tansem Township, but have put those plans on hold pending the outcome of the proposed Lakeswind project, which would have 40 turbines capable of producing up to 60 megawatts of power, due to possible health effects.

"We're still... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Minnesota regulators are inviting public comments on standards intended to protect residents from wind turbine noise.

Minnesota regulators are inviting public comments on standards intended to protect residents from wind turbine noise.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, in response to growing concerns from residents in Clay County and elsewhere, is seeking comments on its setback standards for wind farms.

The decision to invite comments on the issue follows a recent review of scientific studies by Minnesota health officials of public health effects from wind turbines, including noise, low-frequency vibrations and a light-flickering effect.

Per Anderson, a Moorhead resident who is concerned about effects from the proposed Lakeswind Power Plant near Barnesville, welcomed the announcement.

"The activists I've been hearing from around the state are calling it huge, they're using the word ‘huge,' " Anderson said.

Anderson and his wife were planning to build a home in Tansem Township, but have put those plans on hold pending the outcome of the proposed Lakeswind project, which would have 40 turbines capable of producing up to 60 megawatts of power, due to possible health effects.

"We're still dealing with unanswered questions," Anderson said, adding little research has been done about harmful effects from chronic exposure to noise and low-frequency vibrations from industrial wind turbines.

A "white paper" (a report that addresses an issue and makes recommendations to solve it) issued by the Minnesota Department of Health in May concluded that sensitivity to wind turbine effects varies greatly, with annoyance and diminished quality of life the most frequent complaints.

Distance helps dampen noise and other effects, with a buffer of more than a half-mile likely to produce low impacts in most terrains, the study concluded.

But the authors did not recommend any distance standards.

The MPCUC has recommended a minimum distance of 500 feet, but has decided setbacks on a case-by-case basis, said Bob Cupit, the commission's manager of energy facilities permitting.

Clay County, which has jurisdiction for small wind projects, recently adopted a more stringent, 1,500-foot setback for wind turbines.

In North Dakota, where similar health concerns have surfaced from several neighbors of a wind farm near Luverne, an informal standard of 1,400 feet has been the rule of thumb.

The North Dakota Public Service Commission will reconsider its setback requirement in a formal rule-making process, but no dates have been set.

Commissioners will take up requests to reconsider their approval of the Luverne wind project, developed by NextEra Energy Resources, when it meets Aug. 10.

The MPUC is soliciting comments to determine if current setback conditions "remain appropriate and reasonable," in light of the health department review.

Initial comments will be accepted until Sept. 16, with replies accepted until Oct. 14.


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

AUG 2 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/21522-minnesota-puc-seeks-comments-on-wind-farm-rules
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