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PUC pulls plug on Goodhue Wind project!

PUC Webcast here

‘Bout time this project went down…  What a thorny long drawn-out heated and circular discussion, but after a long five years, the Public Utilities Commission said no to Peter Mastic’s New Era and its request for an extension of time to get the project in service and operational.  Did I mention this has been a long journey?  It took five long years of persistent work on so many fronts, dogged work on the part of so many people!  L-O-N-G!  I first met with Goodhue Wind Truth and started representing them in late 2008, early 2009.

Just from today I have 12 pages of notes, so here’s the nutshell version, from the two page Revised Decision Options:

Revised Decision Options 20136-88332-01

  • After a protracted discussion, they first voted to DENY Todd Guererro’s Motion for another two weeks to prepare as he was just hired on.  Nope, says the Commission, we don’t buy it, New Era f/k/a/ f/k/a has had plenty of time.
  • And after an even longer more protracted and circular discussion, the Commission voted UNANIMOUSLY decision options 2 I & J:

  • Then came their vote on the Extension Request as a housekeeping matter:
  • And then, at the bottom of page 2, adding “August 23, 2013″ as the date certain for a response:

DONE!

GOOD RIDDANCE!

po-box-307-of-mastics-new-era-001

Todd Guererro, representing Peter Mastic f/k/a f/k/a, did a valiant job given what he had to work with, a client who didn’t bother to comply with PUC Orders, Information Requests, and laws — he deserves battle pay for  taking the hits hurled by the Commissioners, deserved, but he did the best job possible… well, except he apparently didn’t know that the Commission had made the determination that the project was a C-BED project many years ago, that it was not the Commissioner of Commerce.

I kept my trap shut, thinking “less is more.”

IT’S DONE!

IT’S REALLY DONE!

And an interesting sidebar, NSP had its crew there to monitor its interests (Verified Complaint for Declaratory Judgment, and what a delightful Complaint it is!), and I learned that my arch-nemesis Mike Krikava is a horn player, has a big band of reknown, Nova Contemporary Jazz Orchestra (not Les Brown, perhaps Minnesota’s Toshiko Akiyoshi??), and even played with Ed Berger.  Mike brought it up, wondering how I knew the “real outside” Ed, but folks, it’s a small, small world… who knew?!?

krikiva

And that after he ruins his reputation with his “heart-shaped” dot in his signature as noted by at least two of my GWT client’s cohorts:

Kinda skews my view, though the blustery honking of Bari fits him well.  It’s sort of like Mark Dayton being a shep nut — I will have higher expectations — we shall see… but if Krikava were a trumpet player, well, that’d be another matter entirely.

In the Rochester Post Bulletin tonight:

PUC commissioner:  It’s time to pull the plug on New Era project

ST. PAUL — After nearly five years in the permitting process, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission might have finally pulled the plug on the controversial New Era wind project.

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.

“I think this is definitely a David and Goliath story,” said rural Goodhue farmer Ann Buck, one of the project’s critics, who have spent six figures battling the project over health, environmental and aesthetic concerns. “But I don’t think it was one rock that got the giant. It was many over the last four, five years.”

“The project’s finished, and it has been for awhile,” said Marie McNamara, of Goodhue Wind Truth. “They didn’t extend the in-service date, and the rest is just housecleaning.”

“At the end of the day, your decision will be reviewed on the statute and the rules.”

And in the STrib:

The eagles in Goodhue County may not know it, but they won a victory Thursday. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission pulled the plug on a controversial wind energy project that was stalled for years by a fierce and well-organized local opposition that successfully used its potential impact on eagles to help derail it.

Concerns about the eagles and other wildlife emerged late in the development process, well after the PUC had given the company legal authority and a permit to build. But it’s an example of how concerns about wildlife and other environmental siting issues have become a concern nationally. Once largely ignored, the impact on birds and bats, which die by the many thousands when they run into turbine blades, has now become a focus for both the industry and conservation groups nationally.

The developer, New Era Wind Farm, could try to revive the $180 million project after resolving legal issues with Xcel Energy, its attorney said. But after years of delay caused in part by the wildlife issues, the PUC commissioners voted unanimously not to extend the company’s legal authority to build the 78 megawatt wind farm in Goodhue County.

“It doesn’t necessarily kill the project, but it doesn’t help,” said Todd Guerrero, the attorney representing New Era wind farm.

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