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…


…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?!?!?!”


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.

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