GOODHUE COUNTY, Minn. – Look along the tree line in rural Goodhue County and you’ll see why so many are upset.
“This area is a habitat for eagles, hawks and other raptors,” says Mary Hartman. “I’m all for addressing energy issues, but we need to do it sensibly.”
Minneapolis-based National Wind is the developer and the project is called “Goodhue Wind.” The plan is to place 50 wind turbines across 32,000 acres of county land, but some folks say the proposed “footprint” for the project interferes with eagle habitat.
“Eagles fly and hunt at the same height of these turbines,” says Hartman, a resident who opposes the plan. “I’m not aware of any other project where they are siting wind energy smack through the center of nesting bald eagle habitat.
Earlier this year, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved the “Goodhue Wind” plan and construction could begin in the spring. However, it’s not just residents who oppose the project.
“The Public Utilities Commission, which decided this project should go forward, didn’t seriously look at the avian study,” says County Commissioner Ron Allen. “They just blew through it and went on with what they want to do which is put these things up wherever they can put them.”
Allen also says this issue is a “divisive” one and that Goodhue County is too populated for a project like the one proposed.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommends wind turbines to be at least two miles from eagle nesting areas, however, concerned citizens who spoke to KARE 11 say the wind power plan will break up migration patterns, harm nests, and even injure or kill eagles and other raptors.
Attempts to contact the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and the project developer were unsuccessful, but KARE 11 will continue to follow the story.