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Officials still struggling with wind energy in Goodhue County

As questions and concerns continue to swirl around three wind energy proposals in Goodhue County, officials at nearly every level of government are struggling with how to proceed in order to meet Minnesota's mandate of reaching 25 percent renewable energy by 2025.

RED WING - As questions and concerns continue to swirl around three wind energy proposals in Goodhue County, officials at nearly every level of government are struggling with how to proceed in order to meet Minnesota's mandate of reaching 25 percent renewable energy by 2025.

State Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, thinks Goodhue County's debate might stake out new territory.

"I think this is the start of something big, quite frankly," Kelly said. "Where we've put up wind developments across the state, it's been wide open. Now we have these wind developers coming into Goodhue County, and we have different terrain, and it's more widely populated.

"I really think this is a case that will get looked at across the state and make people think, where do we go from here? Now we're getting into areas that maybe aren't made for wind."

Township debates

Township boards, which have no authority to regulate any of the three proposed projects, have twice tried to slow the process through ordinances and recommendations. Belle Creek and Minneola townships requested in early June that the county board reconsider its resolution of support for the Goodhue Wind project's status as a... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

RED WING - As questions and concerns continue to swirl around three wind energy proposals in Goodhue County, officials at nearly every level of government are struggling with how to proceed in order to meet Minnesota's mandate of reaching 25 percent renewable energy by 2025.

State Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, thinks Goodhue County's debate might stake out new territory.

"I think this is the start of something big, quite frankly," Kelly said. "Where we've put up wind developments across the state, it's been wide open. Now we have these wind developers coming into Goodhue County, and we have different terrain, and it's more widely populated.

"I really think this is a case that will get looked at across the state and make people think, where do we go from here? Now we're getting into areas that maybe aren't made for wind."

Township debates

Township boards, which have no authority to regulate any of the three proposed projects, have twice tried to slow the process through ordinances and recommendations. Belle Creek and Minneola townships requested in early June that the county board reconsider its resolution of support for the Goodhue Wind project's status as a community-based energy development project, which gets state support.

The Goodhue County Board is updating its own wind energy. Its subcommittee of the Planning Advisory Commission met Tuesday, for the fifth time, to finalize a draft ordinance that will be presented to the PAC and, eventually, the county board for consideration in coming months.

In the meantime, Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is considering a request from Goodhue County to extend its period of public comment until October. At least one wind company feels granting the extra time would be excessive.

Even when the county finally adopts firm language, the PUC can overrule or disregard the local input if it finds "good cause" to do so.

Legislative concerns

Meanwhile, Kelly and Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, have crafted legislative language to deal with the local concerns, but it didn't get far during the recent legislative session.

"Goodhue County is plowing new ground here," Drazkowski said. "I think there's a level of question and a level of learning happening as the C-BED statute plays out around the state. For those who have seen and heard some of it, ... I think there's some frustration and wonderment, if you will, what exactly it is that the Legislature designed here and what its intent was meant to be."

Added Kelly: "One of the concerns we brought up last session, and we tried to get some language to clarify, was what a C-BED project actually is. The issue with this one is this one is about four times the size of any other C-BED project in the state. It's kind of playing with the definition, or maybe manipulating is a better word."

The PUC unanimously approved the 52-turbine, 78-megawatt Goodhue Wind project as meeting C-BED standards in April. The second-largest project in the state to receive C-BED classification is under 25 megawatts.

What's next

There is an open comment period for this project. Comments will be accepted through July 16.

A public hearing is scheduled from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. July 21 in the Goodhue Public High School gym, 510 Third Ave. in Goodhue.


Source: http://www.postbulletin.com...

JUL 2 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/27014-officials-still-struggling-with-wind-energy-in-goodhue-county
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