Gro Wind in Scott County

October 30th, 2010

littlebirdie

Thanks to a little birdie…

Looks to me like Gro Wind, LLC is doing the same thing in Scott County that they’re doing in Scott County.

They have four projects totalling 6MW on the Rice County Planning Commission agenda for November 4, 2010, one of them for the  Otting property at the north edge of Rice County on Co Rd 46:

otting-riceco

And in Scott County, they have two more, two 1MW projects, and one of them is on the November 8, 2010, agenda for the Otting property just on the other side of the county boundary:

scottcogrowind-nov8

From the Planning Commission packet:

Gro Wind – Planning Commission Packet

In the application, they note that this is the SECOND turbine Gro Wind has applied for in Scott County, with the other one immediately to the northwest (see site map below):

2ndturbine

And they’re not counting the one just to the SOUTH on Otting property that is in Rice County and is before the Rice County Planning Commission on November 4th, as above.

The Gro Wind turbine on Otting property in RICE County is 1 MW, the other 5 in Rice County are 1MW each, totalling 6MW, and the two in Scott County are ????  The November 8 Hearing one is 1MW Nordic Windpower, and their “Hidden Springs” site one is ??? probably the same, I’ll check the Scott County site for this.

POINT?

IT’S ALL CONNECTED!!!!

They aren’t following the state statutes, there’s no Minn. Stat. 216F.011 “Size Determination” from the state, and there’s no Minn. Stat. 216F.012 “Size Election” notice to the state.

Here’s their site plan, showing the “Hidden Springs” one, and from the looks of it, it’s about 1/2 mile from the other, maybe a little more:

siteplan

As you know, Goodhue County passed a Wind Ordinance earlier this month:

Goodhue County Wind Ordinance

And on Monday, Wabasha’s Planning Commission reviewed its own Wind Ordinance (sorry about the format of this, but it’s how it is on their site):

DRAFT Wind Ordinance – Wabasha County

And now, on to Rice County.  There’s a project proposed in Rice County… well, it’s a revisitation of a project started in Dakota County and which went over like a lead balloon:

Greenvale Wind Farm – Sparks Energy & Medin Energy – Project Docket

This was an 11MW project, and the main objection was that the wind farm was proposed for Dakota County, a pretty populated area, and the project was quickly withdrawn:

Withdrawal Letter – Sparks & Medin – August 31, 2010

And now it’s BAAAAAAAAAACK!

Rice County Planning Commission Agenda – Nov 4 2010

Here are the specifics:

agenda6-10

The same people who proposed that Greenvale Wind project, Anna Schmalzbauer and Leone Medin, a mother/daugher duo, are the ones behind the proposed “five” projects in Rice County, which totals the same MWs as the Greenvale project — they’re all on the agenda at the same time, all to be built the same time, one is under “Spring Creek, LLC” which is a Jeff Paulson creation (that alone should raise eyebrows and trigger scrutiny) and four are “Gro Wind, LLC” with cookie cutter cut and paste “applications” with only minor changes, like the parcel location.  And this time… filed separately.  The Gro Wind cookie-cutter cut and paste applications, all filed “separately,” total over 5MW.

Any wind project proposed must apply to the state for a “Size Determination” under Minn. Stat. 216F.011.  The state then proceeds to determine the size of the project, taking into account projects in geographic proximity, the timing, the project developer, the financing, the power purchase agreements, to determine whether it’s one project, many separate ones, and how many MW, and essentially the state then issues its “Size Determination” and tells the developer where to go!  The County has jurisdiction over those projects under 5MW, and from 5-20MW the developer can choose to go to the county, and 20MW and over goes to the Public Utilities Commission.  In the 5-20MW range, the developer can choose to go to the county for a siting permit, BUT when they do, they need to notify the state that that is what they’re doing, notify them of their “Size Election” when they make the application!  Minn. Stat. 216F.012.

Schmalzbauer and Medin, Spring Creek and Gro Wind, didn’t get a “Size Determination” and didn’t notify the state of a “Size Election.”  They did NEITHER.

It looked fishy when I saw it, so I emailed the County staff and Deb Pile, EFP, MOES, Dept. of Commerce asking for some documentation that the applicants had followed the law.  And nope, didn’t do it, and worse, the county didn’t know that is what they should do!  Direct from Deb Pile, EFP, MOES, Dept. of Commerce:

Dear Ms. Overland,

Thank you for bringing  these Rice County projects to my attention. The Office of Energy Security has not evaluated these projects or made a size determination pursuant to Minn. Stat. 216F.011.  I have discussed the situation with the county and anticipate receiving further information about the projects from the applicants shortly.

Sincerely,

Deborah Pile

Oh my… that is a problem.  So … there goes Overland… and I sent this this morning for the Planning Commission:

Letter to County Staff – for Planning Commission

Exhibit A – email re: Gro Wind application

Exhibit B – Greenvale Wind Withdrawal Letter – August 31, 2010

Exhibit C – DRAFT Wabash County Wind Ordinance

Exhibit D – Goodhue County WECS Ordinance

Exhibit E – Recommended Wind Noise Ordinance – Rick James, INCE

Exhibit F – MISO Queue – Rice County Wind Projects (Excel spreadsheet)

Exhibit G – Public Health Impacts of Wind Turbines – Mn Dept of Health

Exhibit H – Direct Testimony of Rick James – Goodhue Wind Docket 08-1233

Exhibit I – Additional Testimony of Rick James – Goodhue Wind Docket 08-1233

Exhibit J – Nordic Windpower – History (web page)

Exhibit K – FAA list of airports in Rice County

Now it’s wait and see…

The Goodhue Wind Truth crew is off to Stearns County today in search of an improved wind siting ordinance.

billboard

Last night there was a meeting of the Wabasha County Planning Commission on the new Wabasha County Wind Ordinance proposed:

DRAFT Wind Ordinance – Wabasha County

zoning_map

You’ll see some of it is similar to the new Ordinance in Goodhue County:

Goodhue County Wind Ordinance

More as I find out about it — couldn’t get to the meeting last night because another proposed wind project further west needed attention.

dsc00080

Wow, what a day… with an exciting turn of events that tells me that the issues raised by Goodhue Wind Truth are being taken seriously.

In the Beagle this morning:

PUC delays decision on Goodhue Wind

It turned on the Goodhue County Wind Ordinance, passed in early October:

Goodhue County Wind Ordinance

Everyone’s taking this seriously, except MOES of course:

MOES Supplemental Recommendation

… where they said:

OES EFP staff is not able to provide any additional information about what may have transpired in Goodhue County regarding development of regulations and would refer the Commission to the appropriate representative of Goodhue County for additional information.

GIVE ME A BREAK!!!  Of course it’s good to go to the source for information, but to state that “OES EFP staff is not able to provide any additional information about what may have transpired in Goodhue County regarding development of regulations” is beyond absurd.   I was at the Subcommittee meeting that Deb Pile, OES EFP, attended, and in the discussion that ensued, it was stated that there had been ongoing discussions between county staff and subcommittee members (and I think at least one County Board member), and all the county subcommittee, Planning Commission and County Board information had been filed by Goodhue Wind Truth and probably other parties as well.

The bottom line is that they] Minnesota Public Utilities Commission put the Certificate of Need (09-1186) on hold, and sent the Siting Permit (08-1233) over to OAH for a hearing, Findings of Fact and Recommendation, on the Goodhue County Ordinance. Specifically, to build a factual record regarding whether the PUC should adopt the Goodhue County standards, the question of good cause, and to examine whether there is sufficient scientific evidence to support a 10 Rotor Diameter setback.

But let’s not get too excited — the PUC’s intent and the result could go either way.  Hard to tell whether this is a fishing expedition to scrounge up “good cause” to IGNORE the ordinance or whether it’s butt covering to make sure they’ve got a supportable decision if they DO implement the Ordinance in the permit, but it means more work for us and dashed hopes of getting permits by year end for the applicant. It was a roller coaster all day long, I felt good about it going in because Goodhue Wind Truth has done such a good job of making their case, my bet was that it would be good for us, but THE SUSPENSE…

dsc00081

…and Todd Guererro, representing AWA Goodhue, or whatever their name is, he paced a rut in the back of the room yesterday.  I’m sure they’re spinning, saying “HEY!  Where’d that come from?!?!?!”

dsc00082

The best part for me was Goodhue County’s presentation. You all know I’ve had serious problems with Goodhue County since Nuclear Waste Daze, and that’s a story for another day, or perhaps the book… but yesterday the County, as a united front explaining their Ordinance, was very impressive. Each County representative there told a part of the story, detailing the county’s long process in wrestling with the ordinance, the purpose, the intent, in a way that was impossible for the PUC to ignore.

To look at the full dockets, go to www.puc.state.mn.us and then to “Search eDockets” and then search for dockets “08-1233″ and “09-1186″ for the rest of the story.

So what to do? Well, that’s simple — keep on it.

And I wish the PUC would order some nitrous oxide for that “security” guard, the way he glares is enough to chill public participation — and that the PUC thinks that having a security guard is necessary, or appropriate, is disturbing.

In the Rochester Post Bulletin:

Commission deals setback to Goodhue Wind project

10/22/2010 8:01:07 AM

By Brett Boese
The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

ST. PAUL — Dozens of Goodhue County residents filed into the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission hearing room Thursday morning. Having experienced nothing positive during four previous trips to St. Paul to argue against a proposed wind farm in the county, members of Goodhue Wind Truth have come to rely on their numbers for support.

The five-member commission agreed to send the issue to an administrative law judge to further develop the public record, especially how a new county ordinance governing wind farms affects the AWA Goodhue project. That’s expected to delay proceedings for about six months, giving Goodhue Wind Truth something to celebrate.

Goodhue County officials told the commission why the county included a 10-rotor diameter setback in the ordinance.

State Reps. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, and Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, implored the commission to deny the project’s certificate of need and final site permit.

“If we approve this project in the face of so much opposition, we divide a community,” Kelly said. “We pit neighbor against neighbor.”

Drazkowski said, “At what point do these developments get too close (to residents)? Is it Goodhue County? Is it Dakota County? Is it Hennepin County? I’d assert, commissioners, that we’ve reached that point.”

Chad Ryan, chairman of the Belle Creek Township Board, said that “I think people in Goodhue County made a positive step forward today. We were listened to and heard by people who actually wanted to listen.”

Steve Groth said that “to have your state representatives and your county commissioners come up and speak for you, oh man. You know you’re on the right trail. It’s not going unnoticed.”

Project delay

The extra six months extends the response time to AWA Goodhue’s project application to 18 months; the state typically responds in fewer than 12 monhts. The delay also throws into question the future of the 32,000-acre, 50-turbine project.

National Wind, the AWA Goodhue project developer, must begin construction in 2010 to be eligible for a 30 percent grant from the government. Thursday’s decision means the company will have to accept instead a production tax credit, which company attorney Todd Guerrero said means a financial difference of “millions and millions.”

AWA Goodhue has a power purchase agreement with Xcel Energy, but the sunset date is Dec. 31, 2011. Renegotiating the agreement is difficult, according to project developer Chuck Burdick, and requires approval from the public utilities commission. A typical wind project takes six to 12 months to become fully operational so AWA Goodhue would probably have to try to extend the sunset date by at least a few months.

What’s next

Guerrero pressed the commission to expedite the administrative law judge’s review, but commissioner J. Dennis O’Brien refused and added to his motion that the review proceed at a “thorough and deliberate speed.” That didn’t sit well with representatives of the wind company.

“I guess I don’t know what more record needs to be developed,” Burdick said. “There’s already hundreds, if not thousands, of papers already on record. … I feel like this has been a lengthy and thorough process to date and there’s not sufficient reason to drag it out any further.”

Burdick said he and his associates would spend the next few days reviewing material and examining their options. Many Goodhue County residents rushed home to their farms with smiles on their faces.

“I think you could buy Goodhue Wind stock pretty cheap right now,” Ryan quipped.

We’ve been in Minnesota since late April, thankfully, because if I were in Delaware right now, it’d be hard to not flee for the border. So is Alan going back to vote? Chris or Christine, either way Delaware loses…

Listen to the guffaws and watch her expression, she is clueless, utterly clueless, what a nutwad: