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Hearing date set for challenge to Goodhue wind project

Representatives of the proposed wind energy development AWA Goodhue LLC will face off against an opponent of the project March 15-17 before an administrative law judge.

The hearing is expected to determine whether a Goodhue County ordinance requiring a set-back of half a mile can be overruled by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC).

Minneapolis-based National Wind, which created the corporate entity called AWA Goodhue LLC for the proposed 78-megawatt Goodhue Wind development, has faced resistance from a group called Goodhue Wind Truth.

Legal representatives of AWA Goodhue and Goodhue Wind Truth will speak before Administrative Law Judge Kathleen D. Sheehy at the hearing.

“The bottom line is ‘Does energy infrastructure need to be sited in a way that is observant of local zoning authority?’ ” Carol Overland, the attorney for Goodhue Wind Truth, said on Wednesday.

Overland’s law firm, based in Red Wing, will argue that MPUC members cannot overrule local governmental decisions regarding the set-back of wind turbines from properties, even though state law requires only an 800-foot set-back.

National Wind executives have said the half-mile set-back in Goodhue County, a scenic southeastern Minnesota area, threatens the wind energy project and $37 million in federal tax credits that could help build it.

Overland maintained that opponents do not want to exclude wind energy from Goodhue County. But the issue has divided farmers and other property owners who contracted with AWA Goodhue and opponents of the project.

Joe Jennings, a spokesman for National Wind, had no comment about the March hearing, which is scheduled to be held in St. Paul.

[rest of article available at source]