Library from Minnesota
Developers have formally abandoned their plans to build a $180 million wind farm in southeastern Minnesota that drew strong citizen opposition because of the threat it posed to eagles and bats, according to a regulatory filing Tuesday. New Era Wind Farm LLC told the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in a letter dated Sept. 6 that it "no longer intends to develop a wind energy project in Goodhue County" and asked the commission to close all pending matters related to the project. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had estimated that New Era's wind turbines could kill as many as eight to 15 bald eagles per year in a worst-case scenario. The company's estimate was one eagle annually. Duration: 1 minute 50 seconds
Opposition to the wind farm from citizens groups centered largely on impacts to wildlife, including eagle and bat populations. The PUC rejected New Era's plan to protect the animals, causing a delay in construction.
New Era Wind Farm LLC told the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in a letter dated Sept. 6 that it "no longer intends to develop a wind energy project in Goodhue County" and asked the commission to close all pending matters related to the project.
The Sibley County GOP board members thanks the honorable people expressing concern about the proposed Cornish Township wind farm southwest of Winthrop near the golf course. Here are a few things no one ever gets told about the following destructive consequences that may go with a wind farm ...
In this letter to the Minnesota PUC, New Era Wind Farm LLC told the commission that it "no longer intends to develop a wind energy project in Goodhue County" and asked the commission to close all pending matters related to the project.
Local critics of the $180 million wind project, representing opposition groups Goodhue Wind Truth and the Coalition for Sensible Siting, say they spent a January morning in St. Paul detailing their concerns to two FBI investigators. Developers have spent more than $15 million seeking state permits, according to a filing at the PUC, while local opposition has spent six figures in the protracted legal battle.
Despite spending $15 million seeking state permits since 2008, the 78-megawatt New Era wind project appears to finally be dead. That leaves one looming question: What has been learned or changed by this exhaustive permitting process?
The controversy often pitted neighbor against neighbor, but the battle appears near an end. New Era recently missed two deadlines with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, which is expected to hold permit revocation hearings in October or November. That could put an end to an unprecedented five-year battle that's included five lawsuits. "It's like tearing a scab off in our community."
A troubled wind energy proposal in Goodhue County has missed a deadline imposed by state regulators to make its intentions known, and opponents of the project are preparing to celebrate its defeat. ...The PUC is expected to move to revoke the permit.
The wind project formerly known as AWA Goodhue Wind received this final blow by the Minnesota PUC refusing any further extensions of the permit. The utility giant, XCEL has also canceled the power purchase agreement for the energy. Excerpts of the order are provided below. The full order can be accessed by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.
Xcel agreed to terminate the PPA contract without receiving any form of damage compensation. The two entities have been arguing, through PUC filings, over the arrangement for nearly two years. Previous Xcel paperwork has suggested that New Era could be held responsible for "significant" damages due to its alleged breaches of contract.
Xcel Energy and the New Era Wind Farm have ended their power purchase agreement, making it even more unlikely the controversial Goodhue county wind project will be built.
The mounting frustration of St. Cloud VA officials was evident Wednesday at the turbine site. A crew with a massive crane couldn't work on the turbine due to high winds that day. And a hulking, blue replacement gearbox sat untouched after VA officials had just learned it had been damaged in shipment. It wasn't an unprecedented development. The original construction of the turbine also was delayed after its blades were damaged in shipment.
An Orono man must take down a home-sized wind generator on his property because it poses a danger to public safety, a district judge ruled. The decision by District Judge Marilyn Rosenbaum is the latest development in a lengthy legal dispute between homeowner Jay Nygard and the west metro city of Orono.
After lengthy discussion during Thursday's PUC hearing - including a few testy exchanges between commissioners and New Era attorney Todd Guerrero - the PUC unanimously approved five motions that will make it difficult, if not impossible, for the project to move forward in its current form.
Xcel Energy has asked a court to allow the utility to pull the plug on a 20-year deal to buy power that's never been generated from a proposed Goodhue County wind farm that may never be built after four years of nonstop controversy.
The developer, New Era Wind Farm, could try to revive the $180 million project, its attorney said. But Thursday, PUC commissioners voted unanimously not to extend the company's legal authority to build the 48 wind towers in the county. The clearly frustrated commissioners cited ongoing questions about the company's ownership, the status of its contract with Xcel, and its failure to come up with a plan to protect birds and bats from turbine blades.
Jim Alders, Xcel's director of regulatory affairs, said Thursday that New Era has "failed to meet the requirements" of the 2010 contract, which required PUC approval. Attempts since December to cure the defaults have failed, prompting the recent action.
Jim Alders, Xcel's directory of regulatory affairs, said Wednesday that Xcel had been committed to the agreement but informed New Era in December that it needed to resolve outstanding issues with the project by early May. "We gave them [New Era] until now to cure those problems and they have not," he said. "We finally reached the point where the contract gives us the right to terminate."
Wind farm technicians and officials with EDF Renewable Energy believe one wind tower, just northeast of Dexter, was struck by lightning on April 24, which mangled one of the structure's 37-meter, 14,000-pound blades.