Lyon County Commissioner Bob Fenske said he’s been hearing about wind projects in other counties for some time, and on Tuesday he said he was glad to finally approve one for his county.
Fenske is a member of a rural energy board made up of 14 counties in the region.
“… for 14 years…I’ve been hearing about wind projects in Lincoln, Nobles…but it never applied to Lyon County,” Fenske said at Tuesday’s county board meeting.
Fenske told developers the RAHN group of Edina, “I’m very pleased you are coming forward with this project. Good luck to you and thank you.”
The county board approved four conditional use permits for nine wind turbines in Sodus Township. The turbines will have 2.1 megawatts of output and will be installed this year.
Fenske said the county will earn taxes from the production tax on the wind towers. Charlie Daum of RAHN estimated the tax the county would receive is about $78,000 a year.
One of RAHN’s CUP requests was a modification of a CUP received by a different wind energy developer last year. That developer left the project, and RAHN stepped in to work with landowners in sections 18 and 19 of Sodus Township.
At two prior planning and zoning commission meetings last week, the CUP requests drew some concerns from one county resident and generated discussion at the meetings.
The commission was satisfied with the setbacks which meet and exceed the existing and new county wind energy ordinance, the noise level the turbines will produce and other features of the project. The commission did include a list of specific conditions on the CUP to ensure the setbacks would remain as proposed, the state law governing noise would be met and other issues would be addressed.
The county board approved the CUP with all of those conditions.
Commissioner Rodney Stensrud said he recently traveled through Oklahoma and saw abandoned oil pumps that were likely installed in the 1940s.
“They’re not pumping; some of them are half-scavenged,” Stensrud said.
What will prevent that from happening with wind towers? Stensrud said.
County zoning administrator John Biren said the permits include a decommission plan which describes how towers will be dismantled and taken away if there is no use for them after the 20-year contract expires.
“It’s part of the record,” Biren said. “As far as dollars set aside (to decommission) that’s not part of the conditions.”
Fenske wanted assurance the setbacks proposed by RAHN would be the setbacks used in wind tower installation.
Biren said the measurements in the permit will be the measurements used in installation which places the tower nearest tower to a road right-of-way at 415 feet. The towers are 406 feet high, Biren said.
The wind towers were one of two major issues discussed by planning and zoning last week.
Board chairman Mark Goodenow said Tuesday the public meeting portion of those two meetings dealt with proposed feedlot expansions or creations. The planning and zoning commission is required by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to have public meetings on feedlots to gather information, Goodenow said.
Planning and zoning took no action on those permits last week, Goodenow said.
By Rae Kruger – Independent Staff Writer
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