September 29, 2010

Lakefield project blowing in the wind

By: Kari Lucin, Worthington Daily Globe, 28 September 2010

LAKEFIELD – EnXco’s wind project in Lakefield hit a snag last week at a meeting of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, but a PUC vote taken today will determine the wind energy project’s fate.

“The Lakefield groundbreaking ceremony was postponed, and we intend to reschedule,” said Sandi Briner, director of marketing and communications at enXco.

The event had been scheduled for today.

Just like any other building projects, wind turbine construction must pass through a long list of regulatory hurdles and requirements. One of these is obtaining a Certificate of Need, issued by the PUC.

The Lakefield project struck a snag not because of any action by enXco, or because of anything wrong with the project, but because of the wording of the standards the PUC must use to decide whether to issue a Certificate of Need for a project.

In order to grant a Certificate of Need, the Minnesota PUC must determine three things, one of which is that “a more reasonable and prudent alternative to the proposed facility has not been demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence on the record.”

Power from the Lakefield wind project will be sold to Indianapolis Power and Light, and as such, the venture was already evaluated by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. But commissioners from the Minnesota PUC questioned whether Indiana’s standards were the same as Minnesota’s – and whether they had truly examined alternatives to the project or not.

In the end, the PUC’s votes on the issue ended up being deadlocked at 2-2, with one of the five commissioners having been too ill to attend the meeting Thursday.

The PUC will vote again on the project today.

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners sent a resolution Tuesday in support of issuing the Lakefield wind project a Certificate of Need.

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