Articles from Minnesota
Both Sibley Wind Substation, planned for southwest of Winthrop, and Comfrey Wind Energy, planned for west of Comfrey, saw their licenses from the Public Utilities Commission revoked. ...Comfrey Wind had been granted two extensions and sought to be covered by the federal Production Tax Credit, so began some construction before the end of 2014. But the state Department of Commerce said construction came before some compliance filings with the commission.
Now, the worry by Miller and other renewable energy advocates is that anyone considering solar or wind power won’t invest until it’s clear what, if any, extra fees they’ll have to pay their utility. ...The fears of fees as high as $85 stem from an Iowa cooperative utility’s proposal to significantly increase charges to customers who install new solar or wind generators.
Sibley Wind Substation, which had begun utility work for its 10-turbine wind power project, is now asking to withdraw its permits from county and state governments. The memo submitted to the MN PUC can be accessed by clicking the link on this page.
When proposed, the project was heralded by renewable energy proponents and those who saw it as a source of jobs and income for Stearns County's rural economy. But some residents strongly opposed it, concerned about the visual effect of as many as 60 turbines.
“To be truthful, we just started too late. When wind (energy) was first coming out, it was easy. Now they just pile more and more studies on, and bats and bird studies, just piled on, more red tape. Typical government, more forms,” said Scott Hoek, one of 11 co-owners of the wind project.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is developing an environmental impact statement to evaluate the potential of issuing incidental take permits for protected bird and bat species if regional wind industry development grows. According to a news release by the service, the states within the plan are Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. It is called the Midwest Wind Energy Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan.
"Under the current system, people who have distributed generation, solar panels on the roof or their own personal windmills, they're able to use the grid without charge and this means higher rates for other consumers," he said. "We fixed that so it will no longer be a problem moving forward."
Four currently proposed wind energy projects, including Paynesville, have been notified their permits could be revoked due to lack of progress. For the first time in years, the PUC has no pending wind projects under consideration. ...The slowdown in wind energy development follows what one industry analyst calls a “wind bubble” generated by federal stimulus funding and the production tax credit.
The power lines servicing a rural Pine River farm must be replaced by Brainerd electrical cooperative Crow Wing Power, a Cass County judge ordered earlier this month. Judge Jana M. Austad's order is the latest action in ongoing litigation between dairy farmers Randy and Peggy Norman and the power company, which last October was ordered to pay $6.3 million for negligence in its response to the farmers' concerns about stray voltage impacts on their property.
Wind developer Geronimo Energy confirmed Wednesday it’s attempting to sign new leases with landholders at Black Oak wind farm in response to a deadline in state law that voids a lease if a project doesn’t begin commercial operation within seven years of the original contract signing date.
Beginning in May 2013, comments were filed by members of the public including claims of permit violations such as turbine setbacks, noise and underground substation stray voltage. Others expressed concerns about distribution line interference with telecommunications systems; county road agreement concerns;and project proximity to underground pipeline systems and site permit transfer.
The Minnesota Legislature is pushing energy policy in two different directions this year. Some legislators are trying to make energy cheaper, while others want to make it cleaner. There's no consensus about what Minnesota's energy problems are, let alone how to solve them.
Nygaard has repeatedly been ordered to remove the turbine by courts. He took it down once, placing it like a huge lawn ornament on his small front yard. Later he put the turbine back up on its pole in the back yard, where it remains.
The free pass from the typically hard-nosed state tax collection agency provoked local officials, who raised concerns over the secretive process. “We got a letter back just stating that they (Department of Revenue) granted the waiver, but no reason why,” said Stout. “And then, when we called to find out, they wouldn’t tell us and said it was confidential. We just really thought it was not a good deal.”
Shortly after the research concluded, investors learned about a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission policy change from 2006 that they hadn’t been following. It required power purchase agreement farms that produce less than 20 megawatts of energy to fill out paperwork that certified them to do so. But when the farms began 13 years ago, this paperwork was optional. After eight years of unfiled paperwork, the farms were hit with the civil liability and subsequently had to file for bankruptcy.
Pipestone County and the city of Pipestone have sent letters to Minnesota Department of Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans expressing their disappointment that a tax payback was waived for Suzlon Rotor Corporation after the wind turbine manufacturer breached its JOBZ (Job Opportunity Benefit Zone) contract.
Minwind has told federal regulators that the turbines have needed extensive repairs, including main bearings, and the company no longer can afford the upkeep. To make things worse, Minwind got into a jam with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for not filing certain paperwork since 2006. The result is a $1.9 million regulatory liability that has left a potential buyer uneasy about signing a deal to acquire the wind farms.
St. Cloud VA spokesman Barry Venable says the contractor was commissioned to provide a fully operational wind turbine and has failed to do so… The VA has paid a majority of the $2,300,000 cost to build the wind turbine built by JK Scanlon Company of Falmouth, Massachusetts.
Another Hennepin County judge has weighed in on a lengthy, litigious quarrel over a wind turbine on Lake Minnetonka, deciding that the city of Orono can’t completely ban them. ...The Orono City Council passed a moratorium on small wind conversion systems while the city’s Planning Commission drafts a new ordinance regulating them.
Crow Wing Power of Brainerd was negligent in its response to a northern Minnesota farm family’s concerns about stray voltage on their property, a Cass County jury ruled Friday. The jury awarded Randy and Peggy Norman $4.8 million in economic loss damages and $1.5 million in nuisance damages for a total of $6.3 million, the largest amount ever awarded in a stray voltage case in state history, according to the Normans’ attorneys.