Articles filed under General from Minnesota
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.
Many community, Ishpeming City Council and Ishpeming Housing Commission members sat in on a presentation Monday with Clean Green Energy LLC to clear the air about current and future plans for a controversial and long-delayed wind turbine at Pioneer Bluffs Apartments.
Hundreds of workers in our region are losing their jobs as wind turbine manufacturers cut production. The federal tax credit that subsidizes wind energy is set to expire at the end of the year, and political uncertainty is putting the brakes on the wind industry. More than 500 workers are losing their jobs in the Red River Valley.
Mags Rheude, a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, answered one of the PUC's questions. She said that [Peter] Mastic plans to file a revised avian and bat protection plan (ABPP) with the PUC by Nov. 9. The PUC rejected the project's initial ABPP in Feb. due to insufficient data. It's the final state-mandated permitting hurdle remaining for the project, which has faced an unprecedented three-plus year permitting battle.
Contractor Fagen Inc. asked a federal judge for an expedited ruling on who owns the nearly completed Big Blue Wind Farm in southwestern Minnesota. Fagen, a construction company, alleged that the project's financially struggling original developer, Exergy Development Group of Idaho, has tried to extract a "dubious and unearned" $2.6 million fee from the contractor.
As energy market forces continue to shift, Minnesota's largest utility now foresees meeting modestly growing electricity needs primarily with natural gas and hydropower imported from Canada. ...Environmentalists criticized the plan for not including enough renewables.
Fagen Inc. says it's entitled to ownership of the 18-turbine "Big Blue Project," near Blue Earth, Minn., on grounds that Exergy Development Group hasn't repaid an $11.4 million loan. Granite Falls, Minn.-based Fagen says Exergy disputes ownership of the project.
Fagen alleged that the original developer of the project, Exergy Development Group of Idaho, didn't repay $11 million it borrowed from Fagen, causing the wind farm's ownership to transfer to Fagen under a February agreement. ...Exergy recently suspended development of a series of Idaho wind projects, blaming regulatory delays and other factors.
"Minnesota legislators never intended for Minnesota electric consumers to pay above market rates to export electrical generation revenues to India or Texas," the three concluded. "We request a complete and comprehensive review of the (project's) C-BED designation."
But nearly two years later, RES Americas' 300-megawatt Pleasant Valley Wind Farm project is still on hold, largely due to the looming Dec. 31 expiration of the federal wind production tax credit, a key subsidy for wind energy - not to be confused with Minnesota's separate wind energy production tax, which provided $1.5 million for the county, townships and schools in 2012, something that has nothing to do with the federal credit.
Peter Mastic, who formerly headed a Minneapolis wind development firm that worked on the project, said in an interview Friday that he is the sole employee and owner of New Era Wind Farm. Mastic said he intends to pursue the project with the help of a local advisory board .
The development once dubbed "the most troubled" wind project in state history by Minnesota Public Utilities Commission member Betsy Wergin is back under the microscope. ...Project critics have already filed two petitions asking the PUC to pull the 78-megawatt project's conditional site permit based on false or misleading statements that they feel represent permit violations.
Nancy Nolley, a spokeswoman for Dallas, Texas-based Mesa Power Group, said on Friday that a development agreement between National Wind and a Mesa subsidiary, American Wind Alliance, was terminated in August.
National Wind, the longtime AWA Goodhue project developer, was acquired in December by Trishe Wind Energy, an international company based in India, but it appears the move was never officially communicated to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.