Gro Wind south of Northfield

November 29th, 2010

Right now, the Northfield Planning Commission is reviewing the idea of the Spring Creek LLC wind turbine planned for the Northfield Urban Reserve district.  Here’s some on that from Tracy Davis:

Wind Turbines in the “Urban Reserve” around Northfield

In another exciting development, Tom Dunnwald filed for a Writ of Mandamus, to tell Rice County to follow the law, and damned if he didn’t get it!  In this case, the County didn’t provide proper notice for the Conditional Use hearing, and they have to do it over.

This is the same county where I had a laundry list of instances where they had not followed the law and the judge said, “They know they should follow the law so I’m not going to tell them to follow the law” and tossed us out.  So perhaps Mandamus is the way to go rather than a Declaratory Judgment?!?!  Go figure…

Here’s the poop from the Northfield News:

Mandamus trips up wind turbine development


Posted: Friday, November 26, 2010 9:17 pm

Rice County officials have been ordered to re-notify residents in Northfield Township of a public hearing on the proposal to build two wind turbines in the area.

A county judge ordered a writ of mandamus earlier this month, which could force Rice County officials to re-notify dozens of individuals affected by the proposed construction of wind turbines in Northfield Township — and delay any county action on turbine construction approval.

Relatively rare in the course of legal proceedings, mandamuses are “[I]ssued by a superior court to compel a lower court or a government officer to perform mandatory or purely ministerial duties correctly,” according to Black’s Law Dictionary.

Gro Wind LLC is trying to move forward with a pair of 326-foot-tall commercial wind turbines, slated to be built in the southeastern corner of Northfield Township. The approval of conditional use permits for the agriculturally zoned land has been postponed due to legal action taken by several residents.

Similar to an injunction, the mandamus forces Rice County officials to send out individual notices to properties near the proposed site, notices that residents in the area say they did not receive within the legal time frame.

The judge issues a mandamus after a evaluating the “clear intent” of a law that a governmental body needs to uphold, said Tom Dunnwald, an attorney representing one of the residents in Northfield Township. In this case, the issue was the notification of local residents about a public hearing.

The county is required to notify residences of public hearings regarding certain high-impact projects 10 days before they occur. The county put a notification in the paper, but some residents were not notified by mail until three days before the hearing, Dunnwald said.

One individual in the area did not get their notice in time due to improper postage on the notification, said Rice County Commissioner Galen Malecha.

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Gro Wind in Scott County

October 30th, 2010


Thanks to a little birdie…

Looks to me like Gro Wind, LLC is doing the same thing in Scott County that they’re doing in Scott County.

They have four projects totalling 6MW on the Rice County Planning Commission agenda for November 4, 2010, one of them for the  Otting property at the north edge of Rice County on Co Rd 46:


And in Scott County, they have two more, two 1MW projects, and one of them is on the November 8, 2010, agenda for the Otting property just on the other side of the county boundary:


From the Planning Commission packet:

Gro Wind – Planning Commission Packet

In the application, they note that this is the SECOND turbine Gro Wind has applied for in Scott County, with the other one immediately to the northwest (see site map below):


And they’re not counting the one just to the SOUTH on Otting property that is in Rice County and is before the Rice County Planning Commission on November 4th, as above.

The Gro Wind turbine on Otting property in RICE County is 1 MW, the other 5 in Rice County are 1MW each, totalling 6MW, and the two in Scott County are ????  The November 8 Hearing one is 1MW Nordic Windpower, and their “Hidden Springs” site one is ??? probably the same, I’ll check the Scott County site for this.



They aren’t following the state statutes, there’s no Minn. Stat. 216F.011 “Size Determination” from the state, and there’s no Minn. Stat. 216F.012 “Size Election” notice to the state.

Here’s their site plan, showing the “Hidden Springs” one, and from the looks of it, it’s about 1/2 mile from the other, maybe a little more:


As you know, Goodhue County passed a Wind Ordinance earlier this month:

Goodhue County Wind Ordinance

And on Monday, Wabasha’s Planning Commission reviewed its own Wind Ordinance (sorry about the format of this, but it’s how it is on their site):

DRAFT Wind Ordinance – Wabasha County

And now, on to Rice County.  There’s a project proposed in Rice County… well, it’s a revisitation of a project started in Dakota County and which went over like a lead balloon:

Greenvale Wind Farm – Sparks Energy & Medin Energy – Project Docket

This was an 11MW project, and the main objection was that the wind farm was proposed for Dakota County, a pretty populated area, and the project was quickly withdrawn:

Withdrawal Letter – Sparks & Medin – August 31, 2010


Rice County Planning Commission Agenda – Nov 4 2010

Here are the specifics:


The same people who proposed that Greenvale Wind project, Anna Schmalzbauer and Leone Medin, a mother/daugher duo, are the ones behind the proposed “five” projects in Rice County, which totals the same MWs as the Greenvale project — they’re all on the agenda at the same time, all to be built the same time, one is under “Spring Creek, LLC” which is a Jeff Paulson creation (that alone should raise eyebrows and trigger scrutiny) and four are “Gro Wind, LLC” with cookie cutter cut and paste “applications” with only minor changes, like the parcel location.  And this time… filed separately.  The Gro Wind cookie-cutter cut and paste applications, all filed “separately,” total over 5MW.

Any wind project proposed must apply to the state for a “Size Determination” under Minn. Stat. 216F.011.  The state then proceeds to determine the size of the project, taking into account projects in geographic proximity, the timing, the project developer, the financing, the power purchase agreements, to determine whether it’s one project, many separate ones, and how many MW, and essentially the state then issues its “Size Determination” and tells the developer where to go!  The County has jurisdiction over those projects under 5MW, and from 5-20MW the developer can choose to go to the county, and 20MW and over goes to the Public Utilities Commission.  In the 5-20MW range, the developer can choose to go to the county for a siting permit, BUT when they do, they need to notify the state that that is what they’re doing, notify them of their “Size Election” when they make the application!  Minn. Stat. 216F.012.

Schmalzbauer and Medin, Spring Creek and Gro Wind, didn’t get a “Size Determination” and didn’t notify the state of a “Size Election.”  They did NEITHER.

It looked fishy when I saw it, so I emailed the County staff and Deb Pile, EFP, MOES, Dept. of Commerce asking for some documentation that the applicants had followed the law.  And nope, didn’t do it, and worse, the county didn’t know that is what they should do!  Direct from Deb Pile, EFP, MOES, Dept. of Commerce:

Dear Ms. Overland,

Thank you for bringing  these Rice County projects to my attention. The Office of Energy Security has not evaluated these projects or made a size determination pursuant to Minn. Stat. 216F.011.  I have discussed the situation with the county and anticipate receiving further information about the projects from the applicants shortly.


Deborah Pile

Oh my… that is a problem.  So … there goes Overland… and I sent this this morning for the Planning Commission:

Letter to County Staff – for Planning Commission

Exhibit A – email re: Gro Wind application

Exhibit B – Greenvale Wind Withdrawal Letter – August 31, 2010

Exhibit C – DRAFT Wabash County Wind Ordinance

Exhibit D – Goodhue County WECS Ordinance

Exhibit E – Recommended Wind Noise Ordinance – Rick James, INCE

Exhibit F – MISO Queue – Rice County Wind Projects (Excel spreadsheet)

Exhibit G – Public Health Impacts of Wind Turbines – Mn Dept of Health

Exhibit H – Direct Testimony of Rick James – Goodhue Wind Docket 08-1233

Exhibit I – Additional Testimony of Rick James – Goodhue Wind Docket 08-1233

Exhibit J – Nordic Windpower – History (web page)

Exhibit K – FAA list of airports in Rice County

Now it’s wait and see…