A recent request by Goodhue Wind in an already contentious wind project case has escalated the tensions among its players.
Two local groups that have spoken out strongly against the project, Goodhue Wind Truth and Coalition for Sensible Siting, have filed protective orders against Goodhue Wind. They claim the company is trying to intimidate members with its request.
Goodhue Wind, a local company managed by National Wind, has asked for the addresses of members of Goodhue Wind Truth and “all parcels in Goodhue County in the project area and buffer area…that are owned or rented, either directly or through a trust or business entity, by the individuals” in the group.
The company originally had requested the names of members as well, but its lawyers retracted that request Thursday when they filed a Motion to Compel asking the protective order be denied.
Chuck Burdick of Goodhue Wind said the information would be used to help determine the layout of the project area, since members of the group would almost certainly oppose using their land for the 78-megawatt development.
“All we’re trying to do is describe the geography of the project area,” Burdick said. “We have no interest in trying to call people out or anything.”
However, Goodhue Wind Truth’s lawyer Carol Overland said she believes the information is irrelevant.
“It has no relation to what’s at issue in this case, which has a very narrow scope,” she said. “It’s intimidation.”
An additional request accompanying the others to receive copies of any Goodhue Wind Truth’s responses to other information requests was not contested.
If granted, the protective orders would simply mean the group would not have to provide the information.
The motions come in the contested case currently before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. The case aims to determine whether a Goodhue County ordinance requiring a roughly half-mile setback for wind turbines is on par with other state laws and whether it should be applied to this project. Hearings before Administrative Law Judge Kathleen Sheehy are scheduled for March 15-17.
Overland said information requests between parties are routine, but they must fit within the scope of the case. She said she thinks this request aims to “harass” group members.
“It’s very hard for people to participate in this stuff to begin with,” she said. “(The request) is trying to chill their constitutional right to stand up and participate.”
The group also has said it is relatively informal and has no membership list.
Burdick said the company completely disagrees with Overland and the groups’ claims of intimidation.
“We have no interest in the types of activities she suggested,” he said. “All we’re trying to do is answer Judge Sheehy’s questions.”
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