Library from Minnesota
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is waiting to hear from Xcel Energy and New Era Wind in Goodhue County about what changes have taken place in the controversial wind project's power purchase agreement.
The State of Minnesota is considering a bill that would increase the State's renewable mandate to 40% including a 10% solar carve-out. The bill is in conference but it appears rural legislators in both parties are reluctant to pass it through. Cartoonist Marie McNamara created this political cartoon to emphasize the mentality of lobbyists at the Capitol and the effect of the 40% mandate on Minnesota rate payers and businesses.
New Era was given until Sunday May 12 to resolve a delay in the production of a 78-megawatt wind farm in Goodhue County that is causing the company to default on an agreement to sell generated power, said Jim Alders of Xcel Energy.
"We are VERY unappreciative of this symbol being used by the USPS for Earth Day," Marie McNamara recently emailed postal officials in Washington. "Thanks for putting us on record as strongly objecting to the symbol of industrial wind turbines as a postmark. Thanks for putting us on record as wanting to see the postmark go away immediately."
Xcel opposes both the solar standard and the increase to 40 percent renewables by 2030, Regional Vice President Laura McCarten said. "We really would be concerned about arbitrarily setting a new higher level without having gone through a more thoughtful assessment of what the implications are." If Xcel relies more on wind energy, it would have to spend more money to make sure everyone gets enough power on windless days.
A letter from the owner of a proposed wind farm to regulators shows his frustration in the permitting process and a willingness to sell off assets of his investment. "New Era has no confidence that due process for this project will ever end, nor that an ABPP (Avian and Bat Protection Plan) will ever be approved, however comprehensively and carefully drafted," said Peter Mastic, owner of New Era Wind Farm, in an April 17 letter to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.
"New Era initiated discussion with NSP (Xcel Energy that was going to buy the wind power) to assign its power contracts to a third-party wind project developer and site," he wrote in a letter dated Wednesday. Three companies are interested and could get turbines turning this year or 2014. "Each of these projects is sited in a community that is far more receptive to wind energy than is Goodhue," he wrote.
This letter was sent to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in reference to the Goodhue Wind project proposal now known as the New Era Wind Farm. New Era explains that it has initiated discussions to assign its power contracts to a third-party wind project developer and site. It further requests that any further evidentiary procedures with respect to the the project before the PUC be placed on hold. It appears from the letter that the project will be sold or canceled.