Resource Documents: Minnesota (6 items)
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Author: Rosenquist, Kristi
A Report for the Legislative Energy Commission, 10/19/2017 —
Many Minnesotans report sleep deprivation, migraine headache, vertigo and ringing in the ears after large wind turbines are installed near their homes. Some have left their homes.
MN Department of Health identified low-frequency noise as the most likely cause and confirms that the health of some Minnesotans is being harmed by wind turbines.
Setback distance between a turbine and a home is based on wind turbine noise. State agencies concur that they understand so little about wind turbine noise they cannot even enter into rulemaking on wind turbine noise.
Minnesotans who are harmed have no recourse.
European countries more experienced with wind turbines than Minnesota have setbacks that are 10 times the height of the turbine to the blade tip at its highest point (5000 feet for large modern wind turbines).
- Site permit setback distance from homes is based on “noise” even though the State knows so little about turbine noise they cannot enter into rulemaking on the topic.
- Minnesotans’ homes are inside the turbine Safety Evacuation Zone.
- What studies does the PUC have in front of it and how did they respond?
- Citizens whose health and peaceful enjoyment of their private property are harmed by wind turbines have no recourse.
- PUC approved research of LFN by the University of Minnesota that fails to study LFN in homes and the health of people living next to turbines.
- Audible Noise – agreement that 40 dB(A) should be the limit, but no good measurement protocol to determine if it is met.
- Low-Frequency Noise is the problem. Measurable – but no standards.
- What should the Minnesota Legislature adopt for a siting standard?
- Appendix: Partial list of wind turbine LFN and health studies in PUC Docket 09-845
Download original document: “Wind Turbine Siting in Minnesota: A Report for the Legislative Energy Commission”
Download presentation (view below): “Presentation to the Legislative Energy Commission, October 19, 2017”
Author: Hayward, Steven; and Nelson, Peter
In recent years, the state of Minnesota has pursued a series of increasingly aggressive renewable energy and “clean energy” policies that cost electricity consumers billions of dollars, without achieving its ambitious environmental protection goals.
Minnesota law sets out ambitious state energy policy goals. The primary goal would have the state reduce greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2015, 30 percent by 2025, and 80 percent by 2050. State law incorporates a number of additional energy policy goals aimed largely at supporting these greenhouse gas reduction targets. In particular, the state’s renewable energy standard requires utilities to generate a substantial portion (25 to 30 percent) of electricity from renewable sources, mostly wind.
Historically, Minnesota enjoyed the advantage of relatively cheap electricity, with rates typically 18 percent less than the national average. However, since spending an estimated $10 billion on building wind farms and billions more on new and upgraded transmission lines, Minnesota has lost this competitive advantage with little to show for it, except higher electric bills. As electricity generation from carbon free wind approaches 20 percent of total generation, Minnesota has not experienced any appreciable reduction in greenhouse gas emissions relative to the U.S. average.
This report evaluates Minnesota’s energy policy and reaches five main findings that buttress one conclusion: Minnesota’s aspirational energy policy is a grand exercise in virtue signaling that does little to reduce either conventional pollution or greenhouse gas emissions.
Minnesota has lost its advantage on electricity pricing. Between 1990 and 2009, the retail price of electricity in Minnesota was, on average, 18.2 percent lower than the national average. However, in just seven years, this price advantage has completely disappeared. February 2017 marked the first month the average retail price of electricity in Minnesota rose above the U.S. price. (Data are available dating back to 1990.) If in the past seven years Minnesota would have maintained its historic price advantage versus the rest of the country, the state’s consumers would have paid nearly $4.4 billion less than what the actual cost of electricity turned out to be.
Minnesota’s energy policy primarily promotes wind power. Minnesota’s energy policy emphasizing renewable energy is mostly an electricity policy, which represents only about 40 percent of the state’s total energy consumption. Because Minnesota’s geography is not suitable for large-scale solar power, it aims, to date, for only modest increases in solar. As such, Minnesota’s energy policy is primarily a wind-energy policy.
Minnesota’s energy policy is failing on its own terms, as it has not achieved a significant reduction in CO2 emissions. While Minnesota was losing its advantage on electricity pricing, it did not see any significant decreases in CO2 emissions. CO2 emissions in Minnesota declined by 6.6 percent from 2005 (the peak year for CO2 emissions in both the U.S. and Minnesota) to 2014 (before starting to rise again). This decline is one-third less than the decline experienced by the nation as a whole, which saw greenhouse gas emissions drop 9.3 percent during the same time period. Looking at just emissions from the electric power sector, emissions in Minnesota dropped by slightly more than the U.S. However, since 2009, the state has made little to no progress on emissions even as electricity generation by wind increased by 92 percent.
To satisfy Minnesota’s renewable energy standard, an estimated $10 billion dollars has been spent on building wind farms and billions more on transmission. In the past five years, Minnesota utilities have reported using wind power from wind farms totaling 5,000 megawatts of nameplate capacity to meet the requirements of the state’s renewable energy standard. Based on industry cost estimates for building new generating capacity, ratepayers are committed to covering an estimated $10 billion for constructing these wind farms and billions more for the transmission needed to move this new power to market. On top of these upfront costs, ratepayers are on the hook for ongoing wind energy maintenance costs, property taxes, and replacement power needed when the wind doesn’t blow.
Steven F. Hayward, Ph.D., senior resident scholar, Institute of Governmental Studies, University
of California at Berkeley, and author of the 2011 Almanac of Environmental Trends.
Peter J. Nelson, J.D., vice president and senior policy fellow, Center of the American Experiment
Download original document: “Energy Policy in Minnesota: The High Cost of Failure”
Author: Minn. Department of Natural Resources – Division of Ecological and Water Resources
October 2, 2012
“The State of Minnesota has experienced substantial new development of wind energy projects as interest in renewable sources of energy production increases. Wind energy conversion systems provide electricity using an energy source lacking some of the environmental challenges of other sources, with less concern regarding air and water pollution and release of greenhouse gases. Wind energy does, however, have the potential to affect avian and bat species with direct impacts such as collision and barotrauma (tissue damage due to pressure changes), or indirect impacts such as habitat loss, avoidance of habitat, and other behavioral changes. Careful siting of wind projects is considered one of the most useful tools for avoiding and minimizing impacts to birds and bats. Understanding species behavior in relation to the project area helps facilitate proper infrastructure siting, which can be used as a mechanism to avoid and minimize avian and bat impacts. Understanding actual project impacts by assessing fatalities occurring during operation can also inform wind farm operation and help better plan for future project siting.
“Using existing data in Minnesota, regarding effects to avian and bat species, has become increasingly difficult due to the expansion of projects across ecological provinces and the use of taller turbines with greater rotor diameters. Although data from other states provides direction for project planning it is often unpublished, results from various survey methods, and describes effects from habitats with different species use than Minnesota. Data specific to projects in Minnesota will assist with understanding possible avian and bat impacts as expanding renewable energy development increases the possibility for cumulative impacts to species populations. Pre- and post-construction surveys are beginning to be conducted in Minnesota. However, methods for surveys are determined by individual project proposers or state and federal agencies on a project-by-project basis. The following standardized pre- and post-construction survey methods are intended to provide for more efficient agency coordination and project development. They also assist in providing a more robust record for decision makers, reduce uncertainty in project development for the wind industry, and provide for more comparable and broad application of results.”
Download original document: “Draft Avian and Bat Survey Protocols for Large Wind Energy Conversion Systems in Minnesota”
Author: Kelly, Tim; and Drazkowski, Steve
Dear PUC Commissioners:
It has come to our attention that the results of the AWA Goodhue Wind pre-construction avian study completed by Westwood Professional Services do not accurately reflect the number of nesting bald eagles in the footprints of the AWA Goodhue Wind development.
… Westwood did not use updated information to form accurate conclusions in its avian study. We are aware that there may be as many as 10 occupied eagle nests in the development footprint and that these eagles could be adversely impacted if the LWECS are not appropriately sited. The USFWS recommendations for siting of structures in eagle nesting areas are as follows:
- To ensure that locations where project activities may disturb nesting bald eagles are completely and correctly described, it is necessary for the applicant to develop accurate and up-to-date information regarding the precise locations of bald eagle nests and other Important Eagle Use Areas.
- The Implementation Guidance for Eagle Take Permits under 50 CFR 22.26 and 50 CFR 22.27 indicates that because breeding home ranges of bald eagles can extend up to two miles from the nest, new potentially lethal infrastructure should be sited at least two miles away from Important Eagle Use Areas. Therefore, we recommend surveying all areas within two miles of proposed [LWECS and] transmission line routes. Nests of other migratory birds, especially other raptors and colonial nesting water birds [e.g., great blue heron, Ardeaherodias], should also be noted.
- Nests are only one component of Important Eagle Use Areas. Under the Code of Federal Regulations (50 Section 22.3) these areas are defined as “an eagle nest, foraging area or communal roost site that eagles rely on for breeding, sheltering or feeding, and the landscape features surrounding such a nest, foraging area, or roost site that are essential for the continued viability of the site for breeding, feeding or sheltering eagles.” Activities that disturb roosting or foraging eagles are prohibited under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Consequently, we also recommend completed surveys for foraging, roosting or wintering areas within two miles of all potential [LWECS] line placements. Use of these locations by bald eagles can change throughout the year. Accordingly, we recommend a fall (pre-ice-up) and a winter (post-ice-out) survey to determine the location and use of these areas by bald eagles.
We strongly urge the PUC to require an avian study of this Important Eagle Use Area to comply with 50 CFR 22.3, 22.26 and 22.27. We further recommend that the PUC not issue a site permit until a comprehensive avian study has been completed so LWECS siting complies with federal recommendations for Important Eagle Use Areas. The information on active bald eagle nests provided by citizens should not be construed as complete or considered to be anadequate substitute for an actual avian assessment.
Tim Kelly, State Representative, House District 28A
Steve Drazkowski, State Representative, House District 28B
Download original document: “Letter to MN PUC: Inadequacy of Goodhue Wind avian assessment”