PUC pulls plug on Goodhue Wind project!

PUC Webcast here

‘Bout time this project went down…  What a thorny long drawn-out heated and circular discussion, but after a long five years, the Public Utilities Commission said no to Peter Mastic’s New Era and its request for an extension of time to get the project in service and operational.  Did I mention this has been a long journey?  It took five long years of persistent work on so many fronts, dogged work on the part of so many people!  L-O-N-G!  I first met with Goodhue Wind Truth and started representing them in late 2008, early 2009.

Just from today I have 12 pages of notes, so here’s the nutshell version, from the two page Revised Decision Options:

Revised Decision Options 20136-88332-01

  • After a protracted discussion, they first voted to DENY Todd Guererro’s Motion for another two weeks to prepare as he was just hired on.  Nope, says the Commission, we don’t buy it, New Era f/k/a/ f/k/a has had plenty of time.
  • And after an even longer more protracted and circular discussion, the Commission voted UNANIMOUSLY decision options 2 I & J:

  • Then came their vote on the Extension Request as a housekeeping matter:
  • And then, at the bottom of page 2, adding “August 23, 2013” as the date certain for a response:




Todd Guererro, representing Peter Mastic f/k/a f/k/a, did a valiant job given what he had to work with, a client who didn’t bother to comply with PUC Orders, Information Requests, and laws — he deserves battle pay for  taking the hits hurled by the Commissioners, deserved, but he did the best job possible… well, except he apparently didn’t know that the Commission had made the determination that the project was a C-BED project many years ago, that it was not the Commissioner of Commerce.

I kept my trap shut, thinking “less is more.”



And an interesting sidebar, NSP had its crew there to monitor its interests (Verified Complaint for Declaratory Judgment, and what a delightful Complaint it is!), and I learned that my arch-nemesis Mike Krikava is a horn player, has a big band of reknown, Nova Contemporary Jazz Orchestra (not Les Brown, perhaps Minnesota’s Toshiko Akiyoshi??), and even played with Ed Berger.  Mike brought it up, wondering how I knew the “real outside” Ed, but folks, it’s a small, small world… who knew?!?


And that after he ruins his reputation with his “heart-shaped” dot in his signature as noted by at least two of my GWT client’s cohorts:

Kinda skews my view, though the blustery honking of Bari fits him well.  It’s sort of like Mark Dayton being a shep nut — I will have higher expectations — we shall see… but if Krikava were a trumpet player, well, that’d be another matter entirely.

In the Rochester Post Bulletin tonight:

PUC commissioner:  It’s time to pull the plug on New Era project

ST. PAUL — After nearly five years in the permitting process, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission might have finally pulled the plug on the controversial New Era wind project.

After lengthy discussion during Thursday’s PUC hearing — including a few testy exchanges between commissioners and New Era attorney Todd Guerrero — the PUC unanimously approved five motions that will make it difficult, if not impossible, for the project to move forward in its current form.

“I think this is definitely a David and Goliath story,” said rural Goodhue farmer Ann Buck, one of the project’s critics, who have spent six figures battling the project over health, environmental and aesthetic concerns. “But I don’t think it was one rock that got the giant. It was many over the last four, five years.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Double trouble for AWA – taken in the AWA Goodhue wind project footprint:


to be clear, there are lots and lots of bald eagles here, and there are documented golden eagles too.  USFWS has said there are no permits available for golden eagles for this project.

ABPP – that’s Avian and Bat Protection Plan:


AWA Goodhue Fall Migration Study

U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources have filed comments on the Avian and Bat Protection Plan.  These are MUST READ Comments!

USFWS Comments on ABPP

DNR Comments on ABPP

And here is the response to my Data Request to the Board of Animal Health asking for copies of AWA Complaints to Board of Animal Health about Eagle Baiting and the reports of their investigations showing no violations found, that there is no basis for enforcement action:

Response to Data Request – Board of Animal Health

In the AWA Goodhue wind project footprint, T. Boone Pickens is at it again – the helicopters are flying today:


Does that look like 200 feet??  Is it the same one from Brainerd Helicopter Service?

Here they are by the met tower, that’s 197 feet tall,  just enough to keep under the lighting requirement, and the helicopter is just above:


Clients got the call from sheriff and utilized their phone tree to spread the word that AWA Goodhue helicopters would be flying today, notice came in at 10:00 a.m. and helicopter sighted at 10:30 a.m.  Sheriff did a good job in notifying as soon as notice came in, but come on AWA, how about letting the landowners know reasonably ahead of time, report it when you book the helicopter???  It’s not that hard!

Here it is near a communications tower – the lights are out on that tower, somebody call maintenance!


Whew, leave town and look what happens…

Recommendation to PUC – AWA Goodhue Wind docket

What sticks in my craw is this — if the law were unambiguous we would not be here today in this contested case:


And it’s that paragraph 43 and 44 that is particularly obtuse, because from here it looks as though that MOES Affidavit filed, to which GWT objected and about which GWT filed Subpoena Request, which were DENIED:

MOES Comments – Affidavit of Ingrid Bjorklund

MOES Comments – Affidavit of Deb Pile

Goodhue Wind Truth – Subpoena Requests for Bjorklund and Bull

ALJ Sheehy’s Letter to Overland – Denial of Subpoena Requests

Were it unambiguous, we wouldn’t be in this contested case, and she wouldn’t be going through this elaborate dance to get to “it’s unambiguous.”

If it walks like an ambiguous, if talks like an ambiguous, it’s ambiguous…

Oh, and here’s another bizarre part, claiming that there are state standards in existence for 12 years:


Uh-huh… right…

AWA Goodhue Wind Testimony filed

February 28th, 2011

First AWA Goodhue’s testimony, and then ours… It’s been quite the week… quite the last TWO weeks… were I still driving, I’d be out of hours on my second log book:

drivers_daily_log_bookIn the Goodhue Wind case, testimony was due, the Applicants’ a while ago, and now our intervenors’ Testimony.   For the full docket, go to and to “Search eDockets” and search for “08-1233.”

First, here’s what AWA Goodhue has filed:

Testimony – Direct – Burdick

Testimony – Direct – Casey

Testimony – Direct – Kalass

Testimony – Direct – Malamen

Testimony – Direct – Peterson

Testimony – Direct – Robertson

Testimony – Direct – Ward

Testimony – Direct – Zilka

AWA Exhibit 1A

AWA Exhibit 1B

AWA Exhibit 1C

AWA Exhibit 3A

AWA Exhibit 3B

AWA Exhibit 3C

AWA Exhibit 3D

AWA Exhibit 3E

AWA Exhibit 3F

AWA Exhibit 3G

AWA Exhibit 4A

AWA Exhibit 5A is too large to load

AWA Exhibit 6A

AWA Exhibit 7A

And on to the Intervenors, on the next post…


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 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.