KENYON – Hours after a state commission approved a draft site permit Thursday for a proposed wind farm in Goodhue County, local residents gathered here to question officials about it.
More than 125 people attended an informational meeting at Kenyon-Wanamingo High School about the 18.9-megawatt wind project planned by Kenyon Wind LLC. It seeks to build nine wind turbines east of the city of Kenyon in Cherry Grove and Kenyon townships to generate power that would be sold to Xcel Energy.
Earlier in the day, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission issued a draft site permit for the project, a preliminary step in the state’s approval process. The utilities commission has a deadline of June 15 to decide whether to issue a final site permit for the project.
John H. Daniels Jr., a Minneapolis attorney and chief manager for Kenyon Wind, told the audience at the high school that the benefits of the project included clean and renewable energy, increased tax revenue and jobs related to construction and maintenance of the project.
“We’re serious about wind energy,” Daniels said. “We care about this community, and we want to do this right.”
Some residents raised questions about the effect on property taxes, the potential danger of catastrophic events such as tornadoes and fires, health issues and noise caused by turbines.
David Benson, a Nobles County commissioner who lives in the Buffalo Ridge area of southwest Minnesota where wind turbines dot the landscape, said such concerns haven’t been problems there.
Mike Chase, a mechanical engineer who has lived in the Kenyon area since 1995, said he opposed the wind-energy project because of health and safety issues he doesn’t believe have been addressed by Kenyon Wind. Chase’s home is a third of a mile from where a turbine would be built.
“There are some questions here that rightfully need to be answered,” said Chase, who signed a petition against the project along with more than 40 other residents. The wind farm is ill advised, inappropriate and inconsiderate to rural Kenyon residents, he said.
Mary Doerr, a resident of Cherry Grove Township whose home is outside the boundaries of the project area, said she’s among those supporting the plan.
“I guess what matters to me is it have a positive effect on the local economy and basically helps reduce our dependence on coal and nuclear power, which don’t have good environmental records,” she said after the meeting. “I hope I’m not being naive on the whole thing, but it seems like a good project to me.”
Wind project details
Summary: 18.9-megawatt wind farm using nine wind turbines.
Who proposed it: Kenyon Wind LLC, a Minneapolis-based company owned by four Minnesotans. Its financial partner in the project is Edison Mission Energy, Inc., a subsidiary of Southern California Edison.
Location: East of the city of Kenyon in Cherry Grove and Kenyon townships.
What’s next: The public comment period concerning the project is now open. More meetings about the project will be scheduled in the coming weeks.
For more information: The Goodhue County Web site at www.co.goodhue.mn.us/ has links to more documents and information about the project.
By Dawn Schuett
16 February 2007
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