Tomorrow is the day — oral arguments of the appeal of the Public Utility Commission’s Order granting AWA Goodhue a permit.

Notice of Oral Argument

PUC Order – AWA Goodhue Wind Project Permit

Arguments are scheduled for 11:15 a.m. in Room 100 at the Minnesota Judicial Center, 25 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul.

I don’t have electronic copies of the Public Utilities Commission and AWA Goodhue briefs, here’s what I do have:

Coalition for Sensible Siting – Initial Brief

Goodhue Wind Truth – Amicus Brief

Coalition for Sensible Siting – Reply Brief

There’s a lot at stake here, primarily local control — whether a county can regulate a wind project.  Under the Power Plant Siting Act (PPSA), local governments are typically pre-empted from regulating utility projects, except in a few narrow cases, for example power plants and transmission where the project applicant chooses local review having met the criteria  set forth in Minn. Stat. 216E.05.  Another way local governments have a say in regulating utility infrastructure is through a legislative tax exemption under Minn. Stat. 272.02 and  Host Fee Agreement in lieu of Utility Personal Property Tax, where the legislative mandate and the Host Fee Agreement can include non-tax material terms.  Neither of these options are available to wind projects or local governments wishing to regulate wind projects.

HOWEVER, the legislature did pass this gem — note “shall” in the language:


A county may adopt by ordinance standards for LWECS that are more stringent than standards in commission rules or in the commission’s permit standards. The commission, in considering a permit application for LWECS in a county that has adopted more stringent standards, shall consider and apply those more stringent standards, unless the commission finds good cause not to apply the standards.

And this is what this appeal is about – whether the Public Utilities Commission had good cause not to apply the standards, because where they do not have good cause, they SHALL apply the county standards.

We’ll see how it goes tomorrow…