Kenyon Wind at PUC

June 17th, 2007

More in the Beagle – an article about Kenyon Wind.  One thing, of several, that concerns me about this project are some facts that are being ignored:

Steve Sviggum was Speaker of the House in 2005.

In 2005, the House Republicans gave unprecedented support to the Omnibus Energy Bill.

The 2005 Omnibus Energy Bill created C-BED, a legislative change in the permitting and financing of wind projects.

The first C-BED project out of the chute is Kenyon Wind.

Kenyon Wind was certified as a C-BED project by Commerce’s Mike Bull.

CFERS requested the underlying documentation of the organization structure of Kenyon Wind that revealed ownership.

Commerce’s Mike Bull stated that he had the organizational documentation, certified it as a C-BED project, and did not keep the documentation. 

Kenyon Wind is a group long-time wind activists developing their first wind project.

Steve Sviggum is the primary party of the trust that owns the land that Kenyon Wind’s turbine 6 and the collector substation sit on.

Steve Sviggum’s interest and the trust’s lease and/or ownership interest in Turbine 6 and the collector substation has not been disclosed.

The ownership of turbine 6 has not been disclosed. 

Just the fact that the former speaker is doing business with long-time wind advocates who have never built a wind project before is enough to put red flags up…  Steve Sviggum knows House ethics standards well — he testified about it at former Rep. Loren Jennings’ felony trial.  Loren Jennings is now in the hoosegow.

Loren Jennings – Appellate Court Opinion citing Sviggum’s Testimony

When did Sviggum first have a financial interest in C-BED?

Has Rep. Sviggum disclosed his interest in C-BED when it comes up for a vote???


Here’s the Beagle article:

Wind farm gets state approval

Jen Cullen
The Republican Eagle – 06/15/2007

ST. PAUL — The Syverson family’s vision of their Kenyon Township farm never involved giant wind machines.

Now — against their wishes — it does.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Thursday approved a permit allowing construction of a nine-turbine wind farm just outside of Kenyon.

“There are other alternatives,” landowner Selmer Syverson said after the commission’s decision. “This is bad, but I’ll have to put up with it.”

A small group of private investors dubbed Kenyon Wind LLC is behind the more than $20 million project.

Xcel Energy will purchase electricity from the 18.9-megawatt commercial-size farm.

The turbines, which tower 406 feet into the air, will be placed on land leased from property owners in Kenyon and Cherry Grove townships.

Syverson and his son, Steve, joined other members of Citizens for Environmental Rights and Safety at the meeting.

The recently formed grass-roots group still has major environmental and safety concerns, among other issues, with the project.

Red Wing attorney Carol Overland asked commissioners Thursday to take a closer look at those concerns. Commissioners changed nothing in the final permit, despite Overland’s attempts.

“We are probably not able to address the issues to the satisfaction of everyone in the area who has a concern,” said PUC Chairman LeRoy Koppendrayer. “We do the best we can.”

Discussing tactics with her clients after the meeting, Overland said the group could take its case to the Minnesota Court of Appeals or formally ask the state to reconsider Thursday’s decision.

Mike Chase, president of the local citizens group, said Thursday’s outcome will not stop them from scrutinizing the wind farm project.

“We expect to be very active in this project as it moves on — very vigilant, very involved,” Chase said. “I’m disappointed that in spite of all the valid concerns raised they weren’t fully investigated.”

John Daniels Jr., chief manager of Kenyon Wind LLC, said Overland’s game plan Thursday was about throwing up roadblocks instead of addressing valid concerns.

Daniels said issues raised Thursday had already been dealt with.

“This discussion is really obstructionist,” Daniels told the commission. “It’s not really helpful.”

Issues remain

Overland and her clients aren’t buying Daniels’ claims.

They continue to be unsatisfied with how the permit addresses the following:

• Safety — Are the turbines the best model? What happens if they were to fall down or be struck by lightning?

• Setbacks — Overland said the 250-foot setback from nearby roads needs to be moved back to at least 500 feet.

• Environmental issues — Protection of wetlands, farmland and wildlife in the area is a big concern to Overland and her clients. Overland claimed Thursday that the rotors of the turbines impede on wetlands, which goes against DNR suggestions, she said.

• Decommissioning of the wind farm — Money to take down the project won’t be saved right away. Overland argues that’s not the best way to do business.

• Ownership of the project — Overland has filed requests for information on who specifically owns the wind farm project. She said simply labeling the company as Kenyon Wind LLC isn’t transparent enough.

“We want to know what the underlying ownership structure is,” Overland said. “They present it as Kenyon Wind. We don’t know who that is.”

Daniels said he and his partners haven’t kept any secrets on their identity. Only four people have been publicly named as partners: Daniels, his wife and two others. It is unclear if there are more.

“We’re not a secret organization,” Daniels said. “We’re out in the public.”

Chase said he and other members of the citizens group who attended Thursday’s meeting are still miffed at what they consider a lack of public discussion regarding the wind farm.

While they aren’t against wind energy, most landowners in the area don’t agree with the way the Kenyon project has panned out, Chase said.

Chase’s ultimate goal would be to have the wind farm axed completely or for the public to have input on turbine location.

“We believe the turbines didn’t belong in this location,” he said. “This is, above all, about the environment.”

Steve Syverson, whose father owns 80 acres in the affected area, still gets fired up when wind farm discussion surfaces. He will inherit his father’s land someday. Property littered with turbines, he said, doesn’t appeal to him.

Or anyone else, he feels.

“Respect people’s rights,” Syverson said. “Go somewhere less populated.”

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