December 6th, 2013
This photo was taken by Marie McNamara in the Goodhue Wind Project footprint, can you spell E-A-G-L-E-S?
It was the project from hell, with SO many problems, built of cards and arrogant misrepresentations, bought and dropped like a hot potato by T. Boone Pickens, and finally, operating out of a P.O. Box:
We learned Monday that the County was going to take up the project. Goodhue Wind Truth had requested the County Resolution supporting the project from 2008 be rescinded way back in October, after the PUC had terminated the project permits, and had requested time to speak to the County board. Turns out there was a lot more that had to be done, and that included the County Development Agreement, and multiple conditional use permits. So that makes sense to take the time to do it right and get it ALL done. BUT, we got no notice, no information about what agreement had been reached. It was the last agenda item. They agreed to make the County Attorney/Board legal memo public, and when I asked if there were copies for the public, “NO!” and Commissioner Ron Allen laughed. Yeah, to you and yours too… anyway, then they approved it.
Five years Goodhue Wind Truth struggled with this, and were proven ahead of the curve at every juncture.
Look at what the county had agreed to, this is why another agreement was necessary to get out of it:
And the county is probably taking quite a hit:
There needs to be a “lessons learned” session after this mess… the lesson I take from it is the necessity of intervention in county permitting, costly but the only way to keep on top of it.
November 14th, 2013
DOH! It’s worth it just for this sentence:
Markets do not automatically provide competitive and efficient outcomes.
Here it is, with the full all-in-one option or separate sections:
Here’s the full version: 2013 3Q PJM State of the Market Report
And the short version, oh, how I love it when this happens:
The market design should permit market prices to reflect underlying supply and demand fundamentals. Significant factors that result in capacity market prices failing to reflect fundamentals should be addressed, including better LDA definitions, the effectiveness of the transmission interconnection queueprocess, the 2.5 percent reduction in demand that suppresses market prices, the continued inclusion of inferior demand side products that also suppress market prices and the role of imports.
Got that: … the 2.5 percent reduction in demand that suppresses market prices…
Gee, sounds like we ought to pay to build some more power plants and transmission lines…
October 10th, 2013
What a day at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission:
This project, applied for back in 2008 as “Goodhue Wind” and then in January 2010 becoming AWA Goodhue, and then ??? more recently becoming “New Era Wnd,” has been a headache for the state since the original application. For those in and near the footprint, it’s been much more than a headache. Now, after over 5 years of weighing in, participating, dodging helicopters and gathering frightened cattle, digging through deeds and filings at the County Recorder’s office, scouring the countryside for eagle nests that developers don’t want found, compiling piles and piles of information and testimony about impacts of low frequency sound, wading through misrepresentations, misstatements and mischaracterizations and discovering the truth, taking every possible avenue to be heard and finding a few more for good measure, after five long years we can finally say, “YES!!!” this project is over, it is done, DEAD!
The Goodhue Wind Certificate of Need and Siting Permit have been REVOKED. The Power Purchase Agreements with Xcel Energy have been terminated.
Five long years, what a headache…
Five years — what took so long?
Looking at the big picture, this is an example of systemic problems within the state, at the Public Utilities Commission, at the Dept. of Commerce, and at the legislature.
I also ask, what is it with these projects in Goodhue County? I’ve been involved in three of them, three projects not built, ranging from NSP’s nuclear waste “in Goodhue County” in Florence Township; to the Kenyon Wind project proposed by John Daniels, husband of Windustry’s Lisa Daniels and which, as the first C-BED project in the state, proposed to put a substation and turbine on former House Speaker Steve Sviggum’s land; and this “Goodhue Wind” project (note that we’re not counting the quickly dropped CapX 2020 initial talk of coming down the west side of the Mississippi over “Site P” in Florence Township, and the much longer CapX 2020 proposal and ultimately permitted transmission line on the west end of the county, that is a whole ‘nother story, to be found at www.nocapx2020.info!). NONE of these three projects were built, and ALL took five years to get from proposal to rejection. WHY SO LONG?
I see this as a litany of systemic problems.
SYSTEMIC PROBLEM #1 – INADEQUATE ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW
It’s pretty much a no-brainer, but once more with feeling… environmental review for wind projects is inadequate because the siting law exempts wind projects from environmental review!!! This is not compliant with the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act. And under the Certificate of Need rules, all that’s necessary is an “Environmental Report,” and not an Environmental Impact Statement. This “Environmental Report” though, to be clear, is NOT statutory, it is the work of the agency in rulemaking, perfectly legal for the agency to write its own rules, BUT it’s time they were challenged on the result, the failure of any agency to require an environmental impact statement on a project with such significant impacts. We’re in rulemaking now on Certificate of Need, and it’s time to correct that change made about a decade ago.
Another aspect to this is that Bill Grant, formerly Izaak Walton League, is now in charge of utility infrastructure siting at the Dept. of Commerce. Bill Grant is one who helped usher through the legislation exempting wind projects from environmental review!!! He’s got to go and we’ve got to undo the damage he’s brought to the state of Minnesota.
The state law requires:
Where there is potential for significant environmental effects resulting from any major governmental action, the action shall be preceded by a detailed environmental impact statement prepared by the responsible governmental unit. The environmental impact statement shall be an analytical rather than an encyclopedic document which describes the proposed action in detail, analyzes its significant environmental impacts, discusses appropriate alternatives to the proposed action and their impacts, and explores methods by which adverse environmental impacts of an action could be mitigated. The environmental impact statement shall also analyze those economic, employment, and sociological effects that cannot be avoided should the action be implemented. To ensure its use in the decision-making process, the environmental impact statement shall be prepared as early as practical in the formulation of an action.
This review of impacts, including economic, employment, and sociological effects must be addressed. We need to look at the adverse impacts, not ignore them, and we must not inflict the impacts on a community while castigating those who struggle to make the impacts known. And FYI, an “Environmental Report” is not an “Environmental Impact Statement.”
SYSTEMIC PROBLEM #2 – REGULATORS THAT WON’T REGULATE
This project dragged on and on and on and on and on and on, because no one wanted to make a decision on this project. Evidence piled up, the developer wouldn’t produce requested information… How much of a demonstration of inability to put together a project is necessary before action is taken? How much is necessary before it’s apparent that the project shouldn’t have a permit in the first place? How much misrepresentation before the state stands up and says NO! The Public Utilities Commission must be willing to look at the economics and the structure of a proposed project — THEY’RE the regulator. Take a close look at projects, and sooner rather than later!
SYSTEMIC PROBLEM #3 – APPLICANTS ARE RUNNING ROUGHSHOD OVER PEOPLE
Projects run roughshod over people in the area. In this case, standing up to the Goodhue Wind Project took five years of commitment, as significant cost to those who participated. It was the people who initially raised the issues that ultimately killed the Goodhue Wind Project, including C-BED status, eagles, siting, multiple misrepresentations on the part of the Applicants. But this isn’t their job, it’s the job of the regulators, meaning it is the job of the Dept. of Commerce and the Public Utilities Commission to investigate, to verify information, to assure that the applicant produces the information necessary and that its representations are TRUE!
When I work with clients on a project like this, I urge them to develop a big picture approach, and to work within the framework provided. It’s arcane, it’s a royal pain, but this is what we’ve got. Unfortunately, this is not an example where “the system worked,” and instead, it is yet another example that it did not work. The Goodhue Wind Project fell apart of its own deficiencies. YEAAAAAAAAA! But don’t be fooled. The regulatory system in Minnesota is NOT working. Don’t be fooled for one minute!
The good news of this is that Peter Mastic can close his “office” and go back to Nevada:
September 27th, 2013
Join us at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission!
9:30 a.m. on October 10, 2013
PUC Agenda Meeting
121 – 7th Place East, 3rd Floor Mtg Rm
St. Paul, MN 55101
The end of the Goodhue Wind Project… notice just came out for the PUC’s Agenda Meeting on October 10, 2013:
And here’s the good news:
September 18th, 2013
From New Era’s office, above, comes this letter, withdrawing its request for review of its Avian and Bat Protection Plan and requesting the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission “terminate” the siting permit.
This has been a LONG time in the making, it should have been shut down years ago. What’s particularly disturbing, is that two areas are at issue, the C-BED qualification, because it is NOT a C-BED project under the Minn. Stat. 216B.1612, and environmental review, which is not required under Minnesota wind siting statutes and wind siting rules.
In the Rochester Post Bulletin:
In the Beagle:
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.
Xcel Energy, which originally held power-purchasing agreements with New Era, threatened legal action earlier this summer over contract violations caused by the delay. The agreements were voluntarily terminated shortly after the suit was filed.
And in the STrib:
Developers have 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. Commission spokesman Dan Wolf said it would likely do so next month.
New Era wanted to build a 78-megawatt, 48-turbine wind farm near Zumbrota, but was unable to overcome the opposition of local activists, several regulatory obstacles and issues with Xcel Energy Inc., which canceled its agreement to buy power from the wind farm.
“For a long time people saw that this project kept rising from the dead and rising from the dead. And every time we thought it was dead it came back. It’s nice to have the final death certificate,” said Kristi Rosenquist, of Mazeppa.
New Era was among the first projects to seek a federal permit that would have allowed the legal killing of a limited number of eagles. A study published by government biologists last week concluded that wind energy facilities nationwide have killed at least 67 golden and bald eagles over the past five years, mostly in western states, but that the figure could be much higher. A March study estimated that U.S. wind farms kill more than 573,000 birds of all kinds every year.