Library filed under Zoning/Planning from Minnesota
Like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, the elements needed to put together a 5-megawatt wind energy farm northwest of New Ulm are all coming together for the New Ulm Public Utilities Commission. Giant steps were taken at the NUPUC meeting Tuesday as the commission approved the land and wind easement leases with three landowners in southwestern Nicollet County to provide space for the wind turbines needed to generate that amount of "green" energy. In all, New Ulm Public Utilities would be leasing a total of 237.03 acres just off Highway 7, about 5 miles northwest of Klossner.
Winona County commissioners Tuesday heartily endorsed a plan that could lead to construction of the county's first commercial wind turbine on a site in Wiscoy Township.
Lynden Township has denied a landowner's request to erect a wind turbine. The township board voted 2-1 this week not to approve a conditional-use permit for the 120-foot tower. Russ Pearson had proposed installing the wind turbine to produce electricity for his property in the Hidden River addition.
The City of Fergus Falls is well on its way to adopting a policy regarding the installation of commercial and private wind turbines. Wind Energy Conservation Systems (WECS) were the order of business at Monday's Planning Commission meeting, where members approved an ordinance that may see a first reading by the city council as early as Monday. Fergus Falls currently has a temporary moratorium on wind turbines. The six-month ordinance was passed by the council in late February following requests for turbines by both residential and industrial users.
AN ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING A 90-DAY MORATORIUM WITHIN THE CITY OF FERGUS FALLS ON THE CONSTRUCTION OF WIND ENERGY CONVERSION SYSTEMS (WECS), THEREBY AMENDING CHAPTER 7 ENTITLED ZONING AND SUBDIVIDING, BY ADDING A NEW SECTION 7.43 FOR THAT PURPOSE; AND, BY ADDING BY REFERENCE, CITY CODE CHAPTER 1 AND SECTION 7.99 WHICH, AMONG OTHER THINGS CONTAIN PENALTY PROVISIONS.
It's hard to believe, but enXco Development Corporation appears to be looking out for the interests of citizens who are critical of the proposed wind energy project in Mower County. For a second time, the Mower County Board of Commissioners has delayed action on all of the requests from enXco, concerning their wind energy project in Pleasant Valley and Grand Meadow townships. ...EnXco has waived the 60-day rule which by Minnesota statute requires a decision by the county within 60 days of the original CUP application.
Because it is uncharted territory, Community Development Director Gordon Hydukovich is requesting a temporary moratorium on wind turbines. The city attorney will be asked during Tuesday's Fergus Falls City Council meeting to draft such an ordinance. It is necessary, Hydukovich said, until city code can be written clearly stating where they can be placed. The moratorium was prompted by an individual requesting to place a turbine in a residential area. Another request was submitted by an industrial user in the city.
Although the state will permit projects of 25 megawatts or larger, a new law will also require the state to consider county ordinances when it reviews those projects. "The state must show (just reasons) why they wouldn't (use) the county ordinance on a 25-megawatt or larger project," Biren said. The Lyon County ordinance on wind projects is stricter than state regulations in several ways, Biren and county commissioner Bob Fenske said.
As expected, the Mower County Board of Commissioners agreed Tuesday to table action on three requests for an EnXco wind energy project. The firm received the recommendation of approval for their requests a week ago from the Mower County Planning Commission. However, many concerns were raised by residents of Pleasant Valley and Grand Meadow townships, who live near the high voltage transmission line route or the substation EnXco plans to construct. The commission recommended the commissioners table action until the petitioner and the citizens can meet to discuss the issues.
As wind power continues to generate excitement for a "green" energy source in the future, developers are looking to Fillmore County as a potential source of the needed winds, especially in the southwestern part of the county. During its monthly meeting Nov. 15, the Fillmore County Planning Commission heard Minneapolis-based representatives of enXco present the second and third requests this year to put up meteorological towers to obtain information on winds.
Wind is apparently a hot commodity in the Kenyon area. Just months after the state approved a nine-turbine wind farm in Kenyon and Cherry Grove townships, a company has expressed interest in harvesting wind energy from that same region. Goodhue County commissioners on Thursday approved a conditional-use permit allowing Horizon Wind Energy to construct a temporary meteorological test pole in Kenyon Township.
WILLMAR - Preliminary work is continuing on the Willmar Municipal Utilities' proposed wind energy project. "We're still moving forward with the project,'' said Bruce Gomm, utilities general manager, in a report Monday to the Municipal Utilities Commission. A study by Jon Folkedahl of Folkedahl Consulting of Willmar has recommended Ridgewater College and Willmar Senior High School as sites for the turbines, and Folkedahl has recommended two turbines be constructed at each site.
The utilities also argue that the drive for alternative sources of energy -- chiefly wind turbines -- requires more transmission lines to move electricity from the breezy bluffs of rural southwest Minnesota to customers in urban areas.
NEW ULM - A few years from now, District 88 may begin to reap some benefits from wind energy. The school district is registered as an "interested party" in a federally funded program that would potentially provide it with a revenue source from the sale of wind energy produced at a wind farm in western Minnesota, Superintendent Harold Remme told the Board of Education last week. The school district will be participating in a Phase II grant process facilitated by Johnson Controls. All costs associated with the project are covered by a federal grant. The grant will pay for 10-year interest-free bonds to fund the wind farm project.
Anticipating a higher demand for wind energy, Benton County is making it easier for landowners to erect taller windmills. The county board Tuesday changed its land-use ordinance to allow the county's planning commission to decide how tall an energy-producing wind turbine can be. Previously, the ordinance set strict limits on how tall such structures could be - generally no higher than 100 feet in industrial areas and 60 feet in business or farm areas. Exceptions required a variance from the Board of Adjustment. The rule change removes the limit, allowing the planning commission more flexibility when deciding appropriate height, said Chelle Benson, county development director.
The Mower County Planning Commission has endorsed the first farmer-owned wind farm cooperative in Mower County. It may also be one of the first wind energy ventures in the state by farmers who want to invest in producing electricity by wind energy and selling it themselves. The key words are "farmer-owned."
A Mower County resident is seeking to build what he calls the first farmer-owned wind farm in the region. James Hartson, a farmer in Waltham Township, along with his wife, Jane, got support for an initial step Tuesday night from the county's Planning Commission. The commission voted unanimously to recommend the Mower County Board approve a conditional-use permit for the Hartsons to build a meteorological tower on vacant farm land, east of Minnesota Highway 56. It will gather data for a potential wind farm. Community Wind Development Group, based in Bingham Lake, Minn., is the petitioner for the tower. It mainly focuses on assisting communities, farmers and small businesses with renewable energy projects, according to its Web site. The county board will hear the request July 10.
The first major wind turbine project in Yellow Medicine County has received approval from the county commissioners. During the Yellow Medicine County board meeting Tuesday, the board voted to approve the proposed project that would see 20 megawatts developed in Fortier Township near Canby. Jeff Hemish of Canby received support from the Yellow Medicine County Planning and Zoning board during the June 19 meeting which helped get the 20- megawatt project approved by the county commissioners. The 20-megawatt project will be spread over 10 wind turbines Hemish said.
Xcel Energy is asking Minnesota regulators for permission to build and own a 100-megawatt wind farm in the Grand Meadow area. Xcel Energy has contracted with enXco Development Corp., which develops, operates and manages wind-energy projects throughout the United States, to build the wind farm on 40 square miles of land in central Mower County, including in Grand Meadow, Clayton and Pleasant Valley townships, about 20 miles east of Austin. The city of Elkton is also within the study boundary. The proposed Grand Meadow Wind Farm would be the first wind farm Xcel owns in Minnesota, and would consist of 67, 1.5-megawatt wind turbines.
MINNEAPOLIS - Electricity and natural gas company Xcel Energy Inc. on Monday asked state regulators for approval to build and own a 100-megawatt wind farm in southern Minnesota. Xcel Energy has contracted with enXco Development Corp., an EDF-EN Co., to build the wind farm in Austin, Minn., which will have 67, 1.5 megawatt wind turbines on 40 square miles. The farm is expected to be operational by the end of 2008. The company said enXco filed a separate permit application.