from Friends of Minidoka – (but that airplane is misleading, shows size, but folks could think that’s how high they fly, with turbines interfering)

Comments are due on Magic Valley’s Lava Ridge wind project adjacent to the Minidoka National Historical Site. I’d thought the due date was still April 5, and am SO relieved that it’s not until April 20! Still need to get them in so others will know what’s been done in Minnesota, increased setbacks near Jeffers Petroglyphs historic site. Despite the reprieve, it’s time to get on it, have a good start, but not enough.

Friends of Minidoka have done a good job of raising issues and awareness:

The debate begins: The Lava Ridge Wind Project would double the amount of wind energy produced in Idaho. But at what cost?

Lava Ridge Wind Project faces criticism

As always, working from home, but today home is a bit down the road, 60s-70s, gentle breeze and lots of sun. Is this beautiful or what! Well, GUSTS if serious wind, the tent poles are coming out of the snap holes AAACK!

Home sweet home
From the campsite, lots of ducks, coyotes at 4 a.m. too!
April Fools sunrise!

It was a rough trip down, I’m feeling all the years and can’t drive all night anymore. The 13.5 hours down to Liberal was a stretch. And something I’d forgotten, if I’ve not done serious driving for a while, my eye muscles hurt, too much to even read. It took two days to recover from that. Joys of oldfartdom. Couldn’t focus to read, couldn’t work even if I wanted to!

Super high winds through KS and OK were reminiscent of dustbowl days, a flap of trim under the doors almost came off, so belted it on. It is SO dry there, extreme fire danger. Another thing, very few cows, comparatively, and it doesn’t smell like it used to. Way back when, if I just couldn’t go further and I’d park the truck to snooze, truck off and windows cracked open, even if just for a few hours, it would take a week to get all the flies and the stench out.

Through Kansas and Oklahoma at night, the numbers of FAA lights visible was stunning, thousands, and I’m not exaggerating. Need to find a map of turbines, it’s so extreme, as far as the eye can see, both ways.

Anyway, Lava Ridge DEIS is out, see link below for the docs. Comments are due, and here’s a link to the primary documentation (the project developer is sending regular emails, a “what we’re really saying” and “here’s the REAL poop” sort, which I save, and will use to review what’s important to them. Here’s the DEIS on Legalectric:

Lava Ridge wind DEIS deadline now 4/20

I hear breakfast calling, gotta let everything charge up. And then back to the office:

As if it were that easy — I was inside and the wind suddenly picked up and instantly the whole tent was flapping violently and tipped at a 45+ degree angle! I jumped in the bigger room and pushed it back in place and held it for a few seconds until the wind died down. The ranger was raking the site next door, and he said it was a dust devil, usually they come from the west and don’t get this far, and he couldn’t tell where this came from. Oh, was that unnerving. Had to run around and stake everything back down again, glad I’d spent the time to add extra stakes and guy everything down yesterday! Poor Sadie is awfully nervous. That was an awfully close call!

Freeborn Wind at the PUC tomorrow.

Watch on line HERE: Live Webcast

ANOTHER LATE FILING!!!  This last minute flurry is indicative of their desperation!  So I guess it’s a good thing, but hey, I’ve got to get ready for the Wind Rulemaking docket that I’ve been trying to get before the Commission for how many years?  Oh well… one thing at a time…

Freeborn Wind’s “Late Filed — Proposed Special Conditions Related to Noise _20189-146486-01

And our response just filed:

AFCL’s Late Filing2_Reply2Freeborn

Oh yeah, we’re going to have fun at the PUC tomorrow.  Watch on line HERE: Live Webcast

And background, yesterday and day before:

AFCL reply to Freeborn Wind’s Motion to Exclude

Freeborn Wind files Motion to Exclude!!

The settlement agreements for Minnesota’s first landowner buyouts were approved by the Public Utilities Commission at its agenda meeting on May 17, 2018.  Today, it’s REAL, the written order has been filed.


Thanks to Alliant/Wisconsin Power & Light for their work in getting this done. Now, time for a couple of closings!

And at the same time, let’s whip this wind siting process into shape!

Live from the PUC!

February 1st, 2010

Except that now there’s a delayed start, we’re missing a Commissioner…

Here’s some notes, we’re taking a break — I’m missing some parts, but here we go:

February 1 ROUGH notes

OK, the “ROUGH notes” are their in toto, but hey, I’ve got something better:

HERE’S THE MEETING – February 1 Agenda Meeting

You may have to download “Silverlight” to view the meeting.


Really, that’s what they said at a meeting where the operators of the Hibbing “biomass” plant were confronted with all the problems, dust, noise, neighbors fed up and bringing in the evidence.  This is the plant that was violating its air permit and was fined and shut down,
but of course air permit limits were INCREASED and it reopened.
GRRRRRRRRRR.  And when they were told to clean it up, given a deadline, they said:

“I think we need to sit down and prioritize these things and get our butts going,” said Fena.  “We should be able to tackle some of these issues, like some of the noise, right away. If we can’t, we  should be shot.”

Thanks to Charlotte Neigh for sending this in.  Let’s keep an eye on this one!  Ready… aim…

Commission vows to take action on dust, noise

Meeting draws more complaints from neighbors

by Kelly Grinsteinner
Assistant Editor

— Members of the Hibbing Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will have
just more than one month to devise a game plan on how to be better

The commission will hold another public forum, as it
did Monday evening, to address concerns raised by its neighbors about
fugitive dust and noise coming from the facility. The meeting will be
held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 14.

“We may not have a resolution,
but we will have a plan of attack,” Jim Fena, the commission’s newest
member, promised the room of more than 30 frustrated nearby residents.
“It will be top priority. We need to make progress on this, and do more
than give lip service.”

In the meanwhile, some analysis will be conducted on the fugitive dust
wiped up by neighbors and presented to the commission on Monday.

Kathy Nyberg handed over two black rags that were once blue. She has
used the rags to wipe her window sills.

“This can’t be healthy,” she said. “I clean. I get this. It’s in my house. I
breathe it. It’s going into my body, into my lungs. It can’t be

Linda Johnson said she
hoses down the swing set and scrubs the slide before she lets her
grandchildren use it. The fugitive dust and ash, she claims, has also
pitted the windshield of her vehicle and ruined the cover to her hot

Gerry Wyland showed photos — ash and coal dust on his home,
in the alley and even on his kids. The snapshot of children showed
their legs looking all muddy, but there was no mud, he noted.

“You are supposed to control this from happening,” he challenged the
commission. “You need to find a better way to suppress this.”

Mandy Gherardi spoke about how her children have endured allergies and
respiratory infections, which she feels may be attributed to the
utility’s fugitive dust and dirt.

“It’s something that’s going off in my head,” she said. “Something
needs to be done.”

Colleen Hall said she and her son suffer from asthma. They can’t hang out in
the back yard because of the fugitive dust and she is embarrassed to
entertain at home, she said.

“Everything is so filthy,” she added. “I can’t clean it. We can’t sell
it. We’re stuck.”

Several others spoke about putting new siding on their homes and making
improvements to their properties only to be discouraged when they find
soot, dust and grime everywhere.

“Are you going to help us clean?” Marianne Just asked the commission. “We all are rate payers,
but these are additional expenses out of our own pockets.”

Just gave the commission a bag of clothes filled with soot that she had
wiped from her glass table top over the period of a week.

Many neighbors agreed that the problem has compounded over the past three to
four years, which coincides with the Biomass project. HPU officials
also confirmed that the volume of coal and ash they have been burning
has nearly tripled.

Fena credited that to becoming more of an electricity-generating facility, a switch from the utility’s prior
years of producing mainly steam.

HPU is contractually obligated to produce so much electricity, be it by burning wood or coal. And the
utility is forced to burn more coal when the Biomass is down or when
wood supply is short.

“Because the process requires so much more, there will also be that much more dust and noise,” said Fena.
“We’re aware of the situation and aware of the rub. Now we have to deal
with it.”

Several neighbors talked about the noise annoyances, including the banging of gates on trucks, exhaust noise when two of the boilers run simultaneously and about a safety valve popping on and off
at night.

Bob VonAlman said the noise is so distracting that he can barely hold a conversation in his backyard. Jason Johnson said he hears trucks jake braking at unreasonable hours of the morning.

Linda Johnson imitated the irritating noise she hears coming from the plant.

“It’s sad when you wake up dreaming of WD-40,” she said.

HPU General Manager Jason Fisher outlined the steps the HPU has taken to
cut down on fugitive dust since December. Those efforts have included
installing belt cleaners on wood handling belts, enclosing one side of
the coal storage hut and installing spray nozzles on the coal-ash
handling system to wet the ash during unloading. He also said they
currently have a cost estimate for a hood for the receiving area.

In terms of noise, the utility has installed cameras to monitor trucks
unloading at the HPU to ensure drivers are doing their part to cut down
on noise. Fisher said that “has gotten better.”

The utility has also “made some corrections” to the safety valve on the wood boiler to
help alleviate that “gun shot sounds,” according to Fisher. They also
have a cost estimate for a baffle system for the stack of the combined

Chair John Berklich and Commissioner Gary Kleffman
commented on how surprised they were to hear so many, including some
new, complaints.

“I wish we would have known this to be able take some action,” said
Kleffman. “…We have a lot of work ahead of us.”

Residents were encouraged to call the utility when the noises happen and when
they have complaints. In contrast to his predecessor, Fisher was
acknowledged by the neighbors for returning their phone calls and being

Neighbors first aired their concerns during a similar meeting that took place in mid-December. A couple of those parties had petitioned its commission at their regular meetings for
some time, but felt as though they had gone unheard.

Larry Schloesser has been vocal on the issue for some time. He’s lived across
the street for more than 30 years and said it’s never been so bad. He
advocated for building a wall about the entire facility.

“Keep yours on your side of the street, and I’ll keep to my side of the
street,” he said.

Rick Johnson has been along-side Schloesser advocating for something to be
done. He acknowledged that some things had been done, but said the big
problems aren’t fixed.

He accused Berklich and Kleffman of lip service, and asked when the commission was “going to admit this Biomass thing is a failure?”

Other suggestions offered by the neighbors included dismantling and moving Biomass, buying out homes surrounding the utility, paying to clean homes and talking with companies like Excel and Minnesota Power to relax contracts to cut back on the facility’s current capacity.

Several comments were made that HPU needs to determine whether the fugitive dust is posing a health risk, which could be more costly in the long-run if it is.

The meeting was the first time Fena was on the receiving end of the complaints.
After listening to the many grievances, he vowed that the utility would
address some of the issues immediately.

“I think we need to sit down and prioritize these things and get our butts going,” said Fena.
“We should be able to tackle some of these issues, like some of the noise, right away. If we can’t, we should be shot.”

Kelly Grinsteinner can be reached at
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