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Freeborn Wind Pre-construction Mtg? May 14th, 2020

Here’s Commerce-EERA’s response, POST pre-construction meeting:

Hello Ms. Overland,

EERA would like to address your request to be provided information regarding the Freeborn Wind Farm Pre-Construction Meeting held last Wednesday, May 13th.  EERA holds and conducts pre-construction meetings as directed per the issued site permit, which indicates that EERA staff and Commission staff are to meet with the Permittee.  We do occasionally extend invitations to other state agencies and local county staff that have permitting and regulatory authority over portions of the project, local boards or authorities with jurisdiction in the project area, and occasionally participating landowners with interest in project construction activities specific to their property.  These additional attendees are not the same for all projects, and they are only included for clarification and discussion on items or issues for which they have direct approval responsibilities or authority. 

It is our understanding that pre-construction meetings for wind facilities are not covered by Minnesota’s Open Meeting Laws, as there is no final decision being made and there are no individuals present at the meeting with the authority to make a final decision with respect to authorization of project construction.  These meetings are held to ensure that the Permittee has provided the necessary pre-construction filings and satisfied the necessary pre-construction compliance aspects of the conditions and special conditions in their site permit.  Pre-construction meetings are not held as another opportunity for environmental review and public comments.  All the items referenced in compliance filings, general construction activities, turbine locations, access roads, collector lines, ABPP, downstream permits, etc. have been included in the environmental review and public participation associated with the project’s site permit application, public information meeting, development of a draft site permit, public hearing and essentially the entire permitting process as well as the permit amendment process.  

As you have specifically mentioned that the Commission is responsible to promote public participation, and EERA does agree with promoting and encouraging public participation.  However, the Commission is directed to promote and encourage public participation during the site permitting process, which they currently do through public information meetings, public hearings, and public comment periods.  The Commission has issued a site permit, and multiple amended site permits for the Freeborn Wind Farm, with that, the permitting process has been completed and the Project has proceeded on to the permit compliance phase.  EERA is responsible for ensuring that the Permittee is meeting the Commission approved site permit conditions and special conditions. If you have specific compliance concerns, please provide EERA with details on the compliance issue and identify which site permit condition or special conditions has not been complied with, so EERA can follow up.

Thank you,

Rich Davis

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