RED WING – The controversial Goodhue Wind project continued its plodding pace toward a resolution this week.
After more than a month of reviewing his notes, Administrative Law Judge Eric Lipman filed his report with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Tuesday. That was the last hurdle to clear before the proposal will have its final hearing before the PUC, which is expected to come in late October.If the PUC approves Goodhue Wind’s 78-megawatt project, construction could begin this fall.
As both sides of the debate await the final clash, local officials are still wrangling with updating the wind energy ordinance within Goodhue County. It’s been under discussion since May, but the process has been delayed at the last two Planning Advisory Commission meetings as a myriad of concerns persist.
“Personally, I wish we would have gotten it done in August and sent it to the county board for approval,” said county commissioner Dan Rechtzigel, who is also part of the three-person subcommittee charged with crafting the final language.
The next PAC meeting was originally scheduled for Sept. 20, which left a very slim chance that the updated ordinance would have been available for the county board’s review on Sept. 21; the language would have to be adopted as currently written for the quick turnaround, according to Rechtzigel, which seems unlikely. However, the PAC meeting has been bumped back a day due to a scheduling conflict in the meeting room.
If the updated wind ordinance is finally pushed through the PAC this month, the county board is expected to address it at its Oct. 5 meeting. However, it remains unclear how much direction the PUC will take, if any, from the local ordinance.
“We’re in uncharted territory here,” Rechtzigel said. “I don’t know what will happen. What we’ll do is do our work, submit our work and hope the Public Utilities Commission will take it under advisement.”
And if it doesn’t?
“It will be interesting to see what the relationship is like between the county and the state afterwards,” Rechtzigel said.
While the PAC is weighing its own ordinance, Goodhue Wind will also take center stage at what figures to be another lengthy meeting. National Wind’s Ben Kerl, one of the project’s developers, has applied for a 3.1-mile transmission line within the 32,700-acre footprint, along with an electrical switching station and associated pole configuration.
The meeting on Sept. 21 will begin at 5 p.m., or is two hours earlier than the previous meeting – which lasted more than five hours.
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