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Wind farm permits get nod from commissioners  

Credit:  By Kay Fate, The Post-Bulletin, www.postbulletin.com 30 December 2010 ~~

The Mower County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved conditional use permits regarding the location of two electrical substations and transmission lines, one of the final preparatory steps of the Pleasant Valley Wind project.

Final approval must come from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

Although the transmission line routes have changed slightly since the board approved an environmental assessment worksheet in August, it wasn’t enough to warrant a new worksheet, the board said.

“I don’t see any significant change or impact or anything significantly different for the EA that we’re looking at,” Commissioner David Hillier said.

The changes were made to accommodate affected landowners, said Paul Johnson, project manager for Renewable Energy Systems Americas, which is orchestrating the proposed wind farm.

“The (line) placement is the best we can find,” he said. “It allows us to provide access to the lines. It benefits the landowners because they’re on the corners of the parcels. We’ve worked to minimize the impact to the landowner, to reduce environmental impact and maximize our efficiency.”

There has been minimal opposition to the proposed 70,000-acre project near Dexter and Sargeant, involving more than 200 landowners.

Philip Heydt, whose land will soon include a substation, was at Tuesday’s meeting. He cited potential difficulties while maneuvering large farming equipment around the area.

“I wouldn’t necessarily like a substation on my property,” he said, “but for the good of the project, we’ll go along with it.”

DuWayne Skov, a supervisor for Dexter Township and also an affected landowner, supports the proposal as well.

Wind turbines, he said, “don’t stink and they don’t pollute and they don’t use up natural resources. Dexter Township is all for it.”

The township recently received about $24,000 in tax benefits – about 20 percent of the property taxes – from the 26 turbines already in Dexter, Skov said.

One of the few dissenters, Johnson told commissioners, was a woman who had come across information while at Mayo Clinic “that electromagnetic fields can affect pacemakers.”

While the woman herself didn’t have a pacemaker, her grandfather does and “she worried she could have one eventually,” Johnson said.

“Large magnets are in generators,” he explained. “Transmission lines do not have generators; there’d be no magnets here.”

In fact, any exposure to an electromagnetic field would come during the construction phase from the industrial equipment used.

Even then, Johnson said, “the EMF would be one-fiftieth or one-one hundredth what you’d get from an electric hair dryer or an electric toothbrush. The impact would be very negligible, if any.”

A change to the transmission line route on her land, he said, put it “much farther away from her property than the original one was.”

The power generated from the 300 megawatt project will be sold to various energy companies.

Skov is looking forward not only to the financial benefit of Pleasant Valley Wind turbines, but to the economic boon, as well.

“There will be a few really good-paying jobs,” he said. “It’s not perfect, but it’s going to be built somewhere. We might as well take advantage of it.”

Source:  By Kay Fate, The Post-Bulletin, www.postbulletin.com 30 December 2010

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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