The Lava Ridge wind project is likely the country’s largest wind project thus far, with turbines twice the size of those in Minnesota. Here’s the “Magic Valley” developer page: https://www.magicvalleyenergy.com/

And the BLM page for the project:

LAVA RIDGE WIND PROJECT

Cut & paste of some basic facts for the project:

The proposed project includes up to 400 wind turbines, up to seven new substations, approximately 198 miles of 34.5 kilovolt (kV) collector lines, 34 miles of 230 kV transmission lines, 18 miles of 500 kV transmission lines, 381 miles of access roads, 47 miles of temporary crane paths, a battery energy storage system, three operations and maintenance facilities, five permanent met towers and construction-related staging yards. The project proposal has identified a range of possible turbine sizes that would have a generating capacity of 2 to 6 megawatts (MW) per turbine and would have heights ranging from 460 to 740 feet tall. MVE has proposed to locate all components of the project within a series of corridors. These corridors are approximately 1/2 mile wide and cover approximately 76,000 acres, of which 73,000 acres are located on public lands managed by BLM and 3,000 acres are State Lands managed by the Idaho Department of Lands.  The project infrastructure proposed within the corridors is estimated to have a 10,000-acre footprint (emphasis added).

BLM National NEPA Register — Lava Ridge Wind Project

The “Friends of Minidoka” are actively challenging this project, more info here, the link is dated, a cut & paste blurb from BLM:

Bureau of Land Management Extends Public Scoping for the Lava Ridge Wind Project

The prerecorded presentation and scoping posters are available on the project website at https://go.usa.gov/xFKxg.

Contact info for BLM, please contact Kasey Prestwich, Lava Ridge Wind Project EIS Project Manager, Phone: 208-732-7204, E-mail: kprestwich@blm.gov.  

From that Scoping Report, here’s another, better map:

I’d expect the EIS will take at least a few more months, and perhaps not be released until next year. I’ve asked and will report in if I get a response. And here ’tis, expected that “Draft EIS will be published in September 2022 and a Notice of Availability for the Final EIS will be published in April 2023.”

Just in today (I’d requested to be on developers project list) – there’s a meeting on Saturday,11a-1p at College of Southern Idaho, Taylor Building, Rm. 276:

Recently, I learned that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission decided that an “informal” process was to be used in reviewing the three NextEra Dodge County Wind applications and three dockets — Certificate of Need (20-865), Wind Siting (20-866), and Transmission (20-867).

This notion that an “informal” process is appropriate is bizarre — this is exactly the sort of project that needs a contested case!. A few years ago, NextEra had applied for permits for Dodge County Wind, and that project as proposed was so unworkable that they withdrew all three of the applications:

… though for sure it was also hampered by an equally bizarre proposal by Commissioner Tuma that they run a 345kV transmission line through the backyard of homes in Dodge Center! Regular folks stood up and weighed in and stopped this massive transmission line from going through their yards (in many cases, the easement would have included their homes, and many homeowners would have been displaced!).

What are these Commissioners thinking? They’re supposed to be regulators, not enablers.

Anyway, the task at this point is to file comments before the May 25 deadline. In addition to the areas above, it’s important to request a “contested case” and request that an advisory task force be established.

NEXT STEPS:

First, the easy one — Request an advisory task force, as provided by Minn. Stat. 216E.08:

So far, the Commission has not ordered an advisory task force for wind, EVER! Commerce-EERA has always used a very narrow definition of “siting” to argue against it. However, an advisory task force is exactly what’s needed to point out environmental issues and the impacts of both micro and macro siting of the wind project and transmission, i.e., this is LARGE Wind Energy Conversion System (LWECS) sited using small wind standards (Order Establishing General Wind Permit Standards, Docket No. E, G999/M-07-1102 (MPUC 2008); are all the homes (“receptors”) identified on the map; are wetlands and flood areas shown; are the maps sufficiently detailed to show 3×5 and 5×5 rotor setbacks; are easements identified and secured by this private corporation that is not a utility; impact of blinking red lights and use of new motion detected lighting system; impacts on nearby Rice Lake State Park; transmission and distribution lines identified; are all airports there, including private airports for spraying; are all sloughs and wetlands identified; all FAA applications in application; are participating and non-participating landowners regarded equally in siting and modeling; etc.

Second TO DO, and more complicated. In your own words (cut & pasting doesn’t cut it) REQUEST a referral to the Office of Administrative Hearings for a CONTESTED CASE PROCEEDING, and explain what material issues of fact need to be addressed in a contested case. Commenters thus far have raised issues that need to be addressed, the record developed, before any decision can be made. Some clues were above, and now rehashed below:

  • This is LARGE Wind Energy Conversion System (LWECS) sited using small wind standards (Order Establishing General Wind Permit Standards, Docket No. E, G999/M-07-1102 (MPUC 2008) — small wind standards are not relevant to a LWECS project;
  • Most wind projects miss homes in the project footprint — are all the homes (“receptors”) identified on the map and considered in siting;
  • Does the project have all land rights for wind turbines (“targeted, pending, no status, and not interested” do not count, only leased. It appears that land rights are needed for 14 turbines.
  • Does the project have all land rights for transmission. This is a private company with no right of eminent domain.
  • Are all wetlands, calcareous fens, sloughs, and flood areas accurately mapped and impacts considered;
  • Are the maps sufficiently detailed to accurately depict the 3×5 and 5×5 rotor setbacks;
  • Are impacts of blinking red lights considered;
  • Is the use of new motion detected lighting system approved and is FAA applications for this system and for all turbine lighting in the application;
  • What are impacts on nearby Rice Lake State Park and other state land, easements, waters;
  • NextEra has been fined by USFWS and is “on probation” for killing at least 150 bald eagles. Is NextEra’s eagle survey and Avian and Bat Protection Plan sufficient;
  • Are all existing transmission and distribution lines identified and considered;
  • Is noise modeling predictive of ability to comply with noise standards;
  • Will shadow flicker be inflicted on residents?
  • Has use of storage rather than transmission been evaluated;
  • Is this the highest and best use for agricultural land;
  • Does utility scale central station wind fit with county and township land use plans;
  • Are claims that energy generated will be used in Minnesota credible, particularly considering typical powerflows to the east and south;
  • Will this project directly reduce generation of CO2;
  • Are all airports identified, including private airports for spraying, and are impacts considered;
  • Are the impacts, risks, and costs of the turbines on aerial crop and insect spraying, medical, and hazmat helicopter flights identified and considered;
  • Are participating and non-participating landowners regarded equally in siting and modeling impacts and avoidance;
  • Is there a binding road use agreement with townships and counties;
  • Does the decommissioning plan sufficiently protect landowners from burden of decommissioning and cost recovery in the event of operator’s failure to decommission, bankruptcy, and/or abandonment of the project;
  • etc., etc., etc.

Comments are due by 4:30 p.m. on May 25th. DON’T MISS THIS DEADLINE!!

In addition to sending in your comments using options below, I also STRONGLY ADVISE you post them in eDockets. Registration is easy and immediate, and by posting to all three dockets, others will know about issues you’re concerned with and can join in and amplify these concerns.

OK, let’s get to work — it’s time to print out those documents, the revised application, later filings of maps, etc.

To access the PUC dockets go HERE to eDockets Project Database, then search for dockets 20-865 (Certificate of Need), 20-866 (Wind Siting), and 20-867 (Transmission). Just plug “20” into the “year” space, and “865” or “866” or “867” into the “docket” space.

Subscribe to the docket to get notice of filings — subscribe by clicking on a box under the “Subscribe” column heading, then click the grey “Subscribe” button, and follow the directions:

Here are links to some of the NextEra “Dodge County Wind” docket filings:

Certificate of Need Application – Docket CN-20-865:

Wind Site Permit Application & Filings – Docket WS-20 866:

Transmission Route Permit Application – Docket TL-20-867

Initial noise testing at Madsons’ home — Xcel refuses to release results!

Freeborn Wind permit (and standard language in all permits) has noise limits, the state standard (Minn. R. 7030.0040) and permit condition limits:

Xcel’s conslutant’s noise monitoring report (2 parts):

And then Commerce-EERA wants to review and “analyze” it and here’s the result, released yesterday:

Despite documented noise exceedences, they craft it to this result:

… sigh… it starts out promising:

What it looks like is that the measurements of noise monitoring aren’t taken seriously, and that “binning” is used to obfuscate and dismiss testing and monitoring results that show noise levels above those permitted.

Remember the ALJ’s recommendation for this project, that the permit be denied because Freeborn had not demonstrated it could comply with noise standards?

OAH+80-2500-34633+Final+Order

WE WON!!! ALJ Recommend Freeborn Permit be DENIED, or… May 14th, 2018

And then the PUC bends over and gives Freeborn/Xcel what it wants:

Freeborn? PUC upends ALJ’s Freeborn Wind Recommendation September 21st, 2018

To challenge this, hiring a noise expert is necessary, and then it’s time to sue their collective asses. It becomes the responsibility of those affected by the wind project’s incursion on their land to raise the objections and foot the bill. Fair? Equity? Justice? In what world…

Talon Metals Corp. (CNW Group/Talon Metals Corp.)

I first learned of this project when a friend in the neighborhood send a flyer and talking points from a meeting held up there in 2019, so I looked into it then, and there wasn’t much available:

Tamarack copper-nickel exploration? November 13th, 2019

This was the map of the site then:

DNR? Find a summary report and associated map of the proposed exploration related activities at the DNR’s exploration plan webpage. Their “exploration plan” was submitted on March 8, 2022 and approved on March ? … page was just updated, says now it was approved April 12, 2022. TODAY?!?!

Per the DNR page:

Here’s the latest map, published by DNR last month, with the Summary Report and Associated Map (DNR Source)  PDF . Note it was “Talon Metals” a while ago, and now on the DNR docs it’s “Talon Nickel LLC.”

And earlier there was these psychedelic maps that reminded me of knee surgery! Check it out:

Talon Metals near Tamarack? January 28th, 2021

Here’s what they claim for “resources” at the site:

Talon Metals is based in the Virgin Islands, c/o Craigmuir Chambers, P.O Box 71, Road Town, Tortola
British Virgin Islands, and the P.O. Box reminds me of Goodhue Wind’s office in the Goodhue Post Office!

Talon Metals does have a page for this project:

Tamarack Mine – Nickel Copper Cobalt – Talon Metals Corp

But when the Center of the American Experiment locks onto something, that’s a sign to pay attention:

Tamarack nickel mine could begin mining by 2026

Dream on…

Anyway, another email about this appeared recently, and there was a reference to:

www.tamarackwateralliance.org – with ZERO info on who the heck this is, what orgs are involved, no information whatsoever. That’s a big red flag for me.

There is this on that page, but again, no entities, individuals, no identification whatsoever:

Tamarack Water Alliance Consolidated Community Meeting Presentation

Inquiring minds want to know… I really don’t give credibility to anonymous info and sites out there on the interwebs.

This Talon project must be challenged, and STOPPED!

Found this, at the DNR’s News and Public Notices page:

March 15, 2022 – Plan submitted to explore on state nonferrous metallic minerals lease

Talon Nickel (USA) LLC (Talon) submitted a proposed plan to continue exploring for metallic mineral deposits in Aitkin County. Exploration will occur on leased state mineral rights in an area north of Tamarack, Minnesota. Kennecott Exploration Company (Kennecott) and Talon have explored in this area since the early 2000s.

Talon’s exploration plan proposes drilling exploratory borings using the diamond core method at up to 25 drill sites. Talon notes the possibility of multiple borings at each site. Talon plans to use existing access to drill sites. The company may need to construct new trails to reach some areas. Drilling activity, including sealing, will follow regulations set by the Department of Health.

Talon’s proposed plan includes downhole geophysical surveys in newly drilled borings and borings that are temporarily sealed. Talon’s proposal includes plans to use a drill rig to clear any blocked borings. The new exploration plan indicates that surveyors may conduct geophysical surveys on foot within the boundaries of the leased state mineral rights. When conducting ground-based geophysical surveys, surveyors may need to cut small amounts of brush to make room for the portable survey equipment, but surveyors will not cut lines or grids. Talon will place signs when conducting geophysical surveys.

Kennecott, which designated Talon as the operator for the proposed exploration activity, holds the state leases. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has approved the operating agreement between Kennecott and Talon.

Upon DNR approval, Talon has the right to explore state-owned lands consistent with the exploration plan, any stipulations, and applicable laws and rules.

Find a summary report and associated map of the proposed exploration related activities at the DNR’s exploration plan webpage.

Wisconsin folks, call your legislators! Support this bill!

https://legis.wisconsin.gov/

Why? Wisconsin has a “brownfield” bill, but Public Service Commissioners IGNORE the requirement that energy infrastructure be built on brownfields:

Wis. Stat. §196.491(3)(d)8:

(d) Except as provided under par. (e), the commission shall approve an application filed under par. (a) 1. for a certificate of public convenience and necessity only if the commission determines all of the following:

8. For a large electric generating facility, brownfields, as defined in s. 238.13 (1) (a), are used to the extent practicable.

Despite this clear requirement, they acknowledge it, laugh about it, and dismiss it without consideration, and instead site on prime and protected agricultural land.

So YES! This, something I’ve been advocating for, for YEARS!