A contested local wind project will move one step closer to a decision next week.
Sessions begin Tuesday in the administrative hearing on the site permit for Goodhue Wind’s proposed 78 megawatt, 52-turbine project in Goodhue County.
The hearing, which will span March 15-17, will chiefly focus on whether a county ordinance passed last October is on par with other state laws and whether it should be applied to this project.
The hearing will take place before Administrative Law Judge Kathleen Sheehy at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in St. Paul and also will be webcast on the PUC’s website.
The administrative process is different from a regular trial, Goodhue County Attorney Steve Betcher said. Goodhue Wind, the county and groups opposing the project – Goodhue Wind Truth and Coalition for Sensible Siting – have pre-filed witnesses testimonies, he said.
At the hearing, witnesses will have 10 minutes to summarize their pre-filed statement, followed by 10 minutes allowed for cross-examination, he said. Goodhue Wind witnesses will speak first.
Filed testimonies have come from county and Goodhue Wind officials, as well as residents and experts such as engineers.
Those opposed to the project have cited concerns including noise, stray voltage, ice throws and shadow flicker from the turbines.
However, Goodhue Wind has said the project fits in with the state’s goals of finding cleaner, renewable energy and would be profitable for the area.
Goodhue County commissioners voted 3-2 in October in favor of the wind ordinance, which included a provision requiring turbine setbacks of 10 rotor-diameters – for the Goodhue Wind project, roughly a half-mile – from non-participating landowners unless they agree to other standards.
PUC officials voted later that month to send the case to an administrative law judge, and despite a challenge by Goodhue Wind, the decision was upheld.
After next week’s hearings, attorneys from each side will have until April 1 to submit final briefs and documents, and Sheehy is scheduled to make her recommendation on May 1. The case will then go to the PUC for a final decision.
The AWA Goodhue Wind hearing will be webcast live March 15-17.
To access the webcast:
• Go to: http://www.puc.state.mn.us
• Under the heading “Upcoming Events,” click on the current day’s link to: Evidentiary Hearing, AWA Goodhue Wind, LLC: Site Permit – St. Paul
•Click on the blue “Watch Webcast” icon
The hearings will start at 9 a.m. March 15, 16 and 17 at Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, Large Hearing Room, 121 Seventh Place E. Suite 350, St. Paul.
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