Yesterday, we filed Motions for Reconsideration of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Order regarding the AWA Goodhue (a/k/a T. Boone Pickens) Wind Project:

PUC Order – AWA Goodhue Wind Project Permit

What’s really weird about it is that not only is there a PUC Order where the ALJ’s Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Recommendation is adopted, with a few amendments and deletions, but there’s an “EFP” Order too, with the Energy Facilities Permitting writing their own separate overlapping “Findings.”  Ummmmm…. who the hell is EFP to be writing Findings? When do intervenors get a chance to comment on them??? This is a very bizarre morphing that is not addressed anywhere in the rules.  I can see EFP briefing papers, but Findings… and Findings that aren’t even cited?  WTF?

Anyway, here’s what’s been filed, starting with my client, Goodhue Wind Truth:

GWT – Reconsideration – Site Permit

GWT – Reopen Based on New Information

GWT – Reconsideration – Certificate of Need

There are a lot of  others, will post later, this is painfully slow…

Oh there she goes again…


Overland has filed a rulemaking petition with the Office of Administrative Hearings to hopefully address some of the inconsistencies of the rules, and interpretation of the rules, by Administrative Law Judges handling cases for the Public Utilities Commission.

Overland – Petition for Rulemaking – OAH

Why?  Because it is SO hard for people to participate in these dockets, and the rules and the way they’re interpreted make it even harder, and are not in conformance with the Power Plant Siting Act’s requirement to make public participation a priority.

Coming soon – ones covering the issues at PUC and MOES that occur over and over and over and over and over…


AVA Goodhue Wind has applied for a Certificate of Need and a Routing permit, and there are two Power Purchase Agreement dockets open at the PUC.  To see what’s been filed:

  1. Go to www.puc.state.mn.us
  2. Click on “Search eDockets
  3. Search for:
  • 08-1233 – Wind Siting Permit
  • 09-1186 – Certificate of Need
  • 09-1349 – Power Purchase Agreement
  • 09-1350 – Power Purchase Agreement

The EIS Scoping Meeting was held by the MN Dept. of Commerce MOES last Thursday, and here’s the report from the Red Wing Republican Beagle:

Published March 05 2010

Weighing in on wind

MAZEPPA – Larry Hartman threw a question out to the large crowd gathered Thursday to learn and comment about a proposed 52-turbine wind farm in rural Goodhue.

“What is wind?” the Minnesota Office of Energy Security staffer asked.

Mumbles from the crowd highlighted what has divided some neighbors and friends the past few years since wind energy companies came knocking, offering landowners money to house turbines.

“An investment.”


“A scam.”

More than 30 residents provided a wide variety of opinions and comments during a three-hour meeting to gather input for an environmental review required as part of AWA Goodhue’s certificate of need application filed with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

The company, managed by National Wind, also has filed a site permit application with the PUC, the state agency that handles such large-sale projects.

Some Goodhue County residents remain skeptical of the proposed 32,000-acre project that some of their neighbors and wind energy company advocates say will stimulate the area’s economy and help the state meet renewable energy demands.

Hundreds of project opponents – dubbed Goodhue Wind Truth – have submitted a petition to the Goodhue County Board asking for a “safe renewable energy plan.”

The petition asks commissioners to implement a one-half mile setback between wind turbines and homes to help reduce the health and safety threats residents say turbines pose.

“The safety and health of people is a priority over money,” said Steve Groth, a Belle Creek Township landowner and member of Goodhue Wind Truth. “The government is there to protect you. When you sidestep that issue, everything falls apart.”

Economic opportunity

Chuck Burdick, senior wind developer with National Wind, said his company’s project will bring 100 to 200 jobs to the area during construction and two to five permanent jobs.

He said leaseholders and participants will receive more than $20 million over the life of the project.

“We think that’s a significant economic injection into the area,” Burdick said.

Some area landowners agree.

They say harvesting wind gives farmers another way to supplement their income and that wind energy is another part of the changing rural lifestyle.

Larry Fox, a Belle Creek Township landowner, said he hears the hum of corn driers and can smell manure when the wind blows just right.

“I don’t complain,” he said. “We just adapt and know this is a farm community.”

Fox said he would receive $30,000 over the next 20 years for housing a wind turbine.

“That’s a tremendous amount of revenue for these small communities,” Fox said. “I think revenue outweighs a lot of factors here.”

Other farmers say they’re excited to house alternative energy on their land.

Sara Linker Nord lives in Minneola Township and has land in AWA Goodhue’s project footprint. She said she found the wind turbines just outside Palm Springs, Calif., “aesthetically pleasing and majestic” and was disappointed when she found out others did not feel the same.

“It gives farms another crop with little land loss,” she said. “Alternative energy created on American soil increases our energy independence.”

Health concerns

But opponents argue the dangers associated with wind turbines outweigh any alleged financial benefits.

“When you put these turbines up and call yourself and environmentalist, I’d like you to do some soul searching,” said Tom Schulte, a rural Goodhue County landowner who said he recently built a geothermally heated and cooled energy efficient home.

“Because you’re probably not doing it for the environment, you’re doing it because you’re profiting.”

Schulte and other opponents said the environment and rural landscape are at risk if wind energy is not developed properly and responsibly. Livestock, water supplies, agricultural land, bald eagles and other birds need to be protected and studies need to be completed to analyze wind farm impacts, several residents told state officials.

Opponents also argue the state-required setbacks between homes and turbines are not great enough to minimize safety and health issues associated with turbine shadow flicker and noise.

Minnesota law requires a minimum 500-foot setback from residences or the state noise standard, whichever is greater. Minnesota’s noise standard restricts wind turbines from exceeding 50 decibels at night.

In practice, meeting that standard often means placing wind turbines at distances of 700 to 1,200 feet, according to a recent report by the Minnesota Department of Health.

The DOH’s scientific study found that noise from wind turbines “generally is not a major concern for humans beyond a half-mile or so,” because of design innovations to reduce noise.

Goodhue Wind Truth members want at half-mile setbacks. AWA Goodhue is doing voluntary 1,500-foot setbacks (just over one-quarter mile) from non-participating residents, Burdick said.

Zumbrota Mayor Richard Bauer also asked state officials to consider two-mile setbacks from Zumbrota and Goodhue’s corporate limits to make sure the cities are able to grow in an “orderly manner.”

Comments for the environmental report will be accepted until March 26. They can be sent to Larry Hartman, Minnesota Department of Commerce, 85 Seventh Place E. Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55101. Comments can be sent by e-mail to larry.hartman@state.mn.us.

Here we go again!


Once more with feeling, Xcel’s Chisago transmission project rears its ugly head.  This time, Xcel, f/k/a NSP, has violated the terms of the agreement between itself and the cities of Taylors Falls and St. Croix Falls.  It centers on the location of the end of the undergrounding near the St. Croix River.  Xcel is coming up quite a bit sooner than their specific agreement says they would, and Taylors Falls is not happy.  St. Croix Falls has joined in on their objection.  They’ve been going back and forth about this for a while, and now Taylors Falls has asked the PUC to amend the permit.

Notice of Permit Amendment Request & Comment Period

Taylors Falls & St Croix Falls Permit Amendment Request

And they’re soliciting Public Comments!  From the Notice:

The permit amendment request is scheduled to be heard at the Commission’s June 11, 2009, Agenda Meeting. The Commission is providing until June 02, 2009, for interested persons to comment on the issue. Please submit comments to be received before 4:30 p.m. on that date to:

David Birkholz, Project Manager
Office of Energy Security
85 7th Place E, Suite 500
St. Paul, MN 55101-2198

or by email:  <David.Birkholz@state.mn.us>

Attached to the Notice are the rules regarding amendments, and notice is to be provided to the project list.  I haven’t received it.  Hmmmmmmm… and I’ve even been to the P.O. Box lately!

Something else — on April 14, 2009, Burl Haar at the PUC signed a letter saying that Xcel had filed their Plan and they were in compliance with the permit.  That’s April 14, and attached is a memo from David Birkholz, MOES staff, dated April 10, 2009.

It looks to me like they weren’t reading my blog dated April 4, 2009:

Xcel — Undergrounding in Taylors Falls

“In compliance” my fat ass…

This was an issue in March, with correspondence dating from mid-March, and we know there was a lot of fighting going on before that.  So the MOES memo says they’re in compliance with the permit…

Hello – the agreement?  That was Exhibit 218, entered by moi into the record, offered and accepted in Transcript Vol. 1B, pages 82-83.

Deal – NSP – Taylors Falls – St. Croix Falls

This bru-ha-ha was brewing before Xcel submitted its “compliance filing,” and before Birkholz and Harr signed the “go ahead” approval.  So either David Birkholz, MOES and Burl Haar, PUC are sleeping at the switch, or Xcel made a material omission in its filings, or more likely, BOTH!  But hey, what’s an agreement between the state’s largest utility and two Minnesota cities?