Articles filed under General from Minnesota
U.S. District Judge Michael Davis dismissed a lawsuit filed by the developer of the 100-turbine Merricourt project, which remains unbuilt amid lingering fears that whooping cranes and piping plovers will be slashed to death by its turbine blades.
Jaunich solicited funding from individuals and groups for the purchase of pieces of membership in Averill Wind, a company that Jaunich created to develop and operate a wind energy project in Clay County, Minn. To induce these investments, Jaunich misled investors about the project’s status.
The 171-turbine, 280-megawatt project - which would have been the largest wind project in Minnesota - was reduced to a 58-turbine, 116-megawatt development by eliminating many of the turbines that had been targeted by critics. Issues remain before the project will break ground. Per Thursday's approval, Gamesa must submit an avian and bat protection plan.
The most significant blow to the project may have been delivered last week, when PUC staff filed briefing papers. Staff recommended that the commission deny the requested amendments or table the request, require an avian and bat protection plan to be created and - perhaps most importantly - initiate potential revocation proceedings "since the permittee has not commenced construction."
The plug has reportedly been pulled on what could have been the largest wind project in Minnesota history. EDP Renewables, formerly Horizon Wind, recently mailed project participants in Goodhue, Rice, Dodge and Steele counties letters informing them that the initial contract period was up and it would not be renewed.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission took another pass Thursday in deciding the fate of the controversial New Era wind project in Goodhue County. The commissioners voted unanimously to re-open the certificate of need docket, which was previously approved by the PUC in June 2011.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously Thursday, Feb. 28, to re-examine the 78-megawatt New Era Wind Farm proposed for the area around Belle Creek, Zumbrota and Goodhue townships.
The delay is just the latest in a string of setbacks for the project, which ran into resistance as soon as it was introduced four years ago. Turbines were originally expected to be spinning by the end of 2011. Representatives for the developer acknowledged the project was taking longer than anticipated and that they remained uncertain how soon construction could begin if regulatory hurdles were overcome.
The staff members recommended reopening the power purchase agreement docket New Era signed with Xcel Energy, ruling that the project is not a community-based energy development (C-BED) and asking the developer to "show cause" why the project's certificate of need should not be revoked.
On Thursday, farmers who bought a wind turbine from Renewable Energy in Excelsior saw a victory in court when a judge ordered the company to temporary halt future sales and open its financial books.
The lawsuit alleges that Renewable Energy SD (RESD) sold farmers in Minnesota and elsewhere faulty windmills using federal stimulus money ...The company either failed to deliver many of the windmills or, in some cases, erected turbines that failed to perform properly or at all, the suit says.
The Eco Harmony West Wind project proposed in Fillmore County is awaiting a ruling this spring after petitioning the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for recertification of its Certificate of Need, an amended site permit and two additional years to obtain a power purchase agreement.
With an eye on the controversial New Era wind project in Goodhue County, area legislators have put wind energy reform near the top of their agenda for a second straight session.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson filed a lawsuit Friday against a wind-energy company based in Excelsior alleging that it bilked farmers around Minnesota out of hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece utilizing federal stimulus money aimed at helping the country during the recession.
In July and August wind generation is minimal because hot air is not dense, and it takes even more wind to turn the blades when it is hot. Those in the industry call this the summer doldrums. A coal or nuclear power plant cannot scale down their production on a windy day. They are fined if they don’t produce enough power to meet the demand. Therefore, most (if not all) wind power is wasted.
The PUC opened a public comment period Wednesday for a series of four questions dealing with the 78 megawatt project, which previously was called AWA Goodhue. The queries raise issues that date back to 2008 as the 32,000-acre project continues to face an unprecedented permitting process that has drawn national attention.
The report highlights an ongoing debate throughout the region for setback distances. Minnesota has a minimum setback of 500 feet of turbines from occupied dwellings. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency also states that turbines must create less than 50 decibels of noise to minimize impacts, which typically forces larger setbacks. However, the MPCA does not measure wind turbines for LFN impacts.
The Goodhue County Commissioners sent a letter to the Minnesota PUC stating that the principal elements of the original resolution no longer reflect the present ownership and operation of the Goodhue Wind project. ..."Logically, any such grandfathered status cannot survive a total change of ownership when the C-BED status rests solely on a determination of where a project's proceeds will be distributed," a letter from the commissioners states.
Peter Mastic, the owner of New Era Wind Farm LLC, replied to 11 questions from the Public Utilities Commission about what effect his buying the company would have, including if it will qualify for Community-Based Energy Development status that gives more money for the power.
New Era Wind Farm LLC, which is trying to build a major wind farm in Goodhue County, has received an extension until Dec. 15 to answer Public Utilities Commission questions about its finances, ownership and other details about its business plan.