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Judge recommends county wind ordinance not be applied to Goodhue Wind project

Goodhue County’s wind power ordinance should not be applied to a project proposed by Goodhue Wind, a judge said Friday in her recommendation to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

Administrative Law Judge Kathleen Sheehy said that she found good cause not to apply many provisions of the county ordinance, passed last October, to Goodhue Wind’s 78 megawatt, 52-turbine project.

“It was really a comprehensive review, and she was very professional and even-handed in the way she developed it,” said Joe Jennings, director of communications for Goodhue Wind.

The review detailed 179 findings, in which Sheehy addressed many things people who were opposed to the project had been concerned about.

Some concerns involved noise from the turbines, as well as the possibilities of stray voltage, ice throws and shadow flicker.

Sheehy found that all of the wind turbine sites proposed by Goodhue Wind would be located far enough from dwellings to meet the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency noise standards. Another finding showed that there is no evidence that any wind farm operation has ever caused stray voltage problems.

“We agree with her on both the factual and legal interpretations that she provided, and also appreciate that she did a detailed review of a lot of the important questions the community raised,” said Chuck Burdick, project developer for Goodhue Wind.

Goodhue County Attorney Stephen Betcher did not get a chance to review the judge’s recommendation Friday and was unable to comment.

The final decision about approving or denying the site permit for Goodhue Wind is up to the Public Utilities Commission. No date has been set.