Wanamingo Wind Forum

July 13th, 2009

Last Thursday, July 9, there was a Wind Energy Forum in Wanamingo, the same Community Center where, about three weeks prior, there was a CapX 2020 scoping meeting.  This was sponsored by Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (Rich Huelskamp is part of that now?).

Noteworthy comments:

Dean Runde, Pioneer Prairie, when asked about turbine noise, said: “I’m surrounded by turbines, and I don’t hear a thing.  They’re half a mile away and I don’t hear a thing.”

Half a mile?  But of course you can’t hear them!  Try 800 feet, 500 feet!!!

The author of the Dept. of Health White Paper was on a panel also.  Here’s that report:

MN Dept of Health – Public Health Impacts of Wind Turbines

The woman representing National Wind looked very unhappy.  Maybe it was the talk of setbacks, and I’m sure it was the talk of how developers are involving all the neighbors.  After all, Goodhue County has been a problem.  First, there was the ill-conceived “Kenyon Wind,” and then there was Goodhue Wind.  But what I found most enlightening, which I’m sure the National Wind folks wouldn’t like, was a Windustry handout about landowner leases which has a number of things for landowners to watch out for.  Here’s one that stands out:

7. Landowner should be careful about agreeing to the following types of provisions:

(a) Confidentiality provisions which prohibit Landowner from disclosing information pertaining to the
terms and conditions of the lease/easement.

Here’s the Windustry handout:

Windustry – Wind Energy Lease and Easement Agreements

Of concern — I’ve been hearing reports of non-disclosure provisions in Nicollet County, Bent Tree and Goodhue projects, but copies of the actual contracts have not been produced, so we’ll see…

And for some guidance, here’s a draft county ordinance regarding wind turbines that has a more reasonable setback:

Murray County Wind Energy Ordinance

Murray County did well in getting turbines set back far enough from roads, but I’d like to see more distance in basic setbacks.  Where they set setbacks at 3 or 5 rotor diameters, I’d like to see it at 3 or 5 total tower height (including up to tip of rotor when extended straight up).

Here’s the report from the Beagle:

Residents flood wind energy forum

WANAMINGO — Wind energy may be the wave of the future, but many Goodhue County residents still wonder what it means for them.

By: Jen Cullen, The Republican Eagle

WANAMINGO — Wind energy may be the wave of the future, but many Goodhue County residents still wonder what it means for them.

More than 150 people attended a wind energy forum Thursday in Wanamingo sponsored by the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation and the Southwest Initiative Foundation.

The agencies have collaborated to bring several wind energy forums to southern Minnesota communities.

“We need to get our brains around this, we need to get our minds around this,” said Tim Penny, president of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation.

The forum focused mainly on community-based wind farm projects — those where local landowners are stakeholders.

A handful of wind energy companies — two of which were represented at Thursday’s forum — are interested in bringing such projects to areas like Kenyon, Cherry Grove, Goodhue and Belle Creek townships.

Representatives from competitors Geronimo Wind and Goodhue Wind, LLC., have been talking with residents for more than a year about putting wind turbines on land in the Goodhue area.

“Large firms want to build larger facilities,” Penny said. “We still think there’s an opportunity for some community-based projects that are smaller. But it’s not an easy path, it’s not a quick path.”

But it may be a more profitable path, said Eric Lantz, a member of National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s markets and policy analysis group.

Lantz evaluates the economic development impacts of wind power.

“It does look like community wind projects have a greater economic impact than absentee-owned projects,” Lantz said. “Perhaps that impact is not as great as stated by some, but there’s certainly a real advantage there.”

Lantz said research indicates community-based projects offer more jobs and funnel money back into the local economy.

Audience members peppered panelists with questions about everything from power purchase agreements to legal issues.

One even wondered just how “green” wind energy really is.

“The fuel source that powers the electricity that comes out of the turbines is air,” said Charlie Daum with Geronimo Wind. “To me that sounds like green energy, that feels like green energy.”

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