May 6, 2011

Wind farm restrictions may be studied

By Don Davis, Capitol Chatter, 6 May 2011

A Senate committee took no stand Thursday to restrict wind power farms.

A bill by Sen. John Howe, R-Red Wing, said there is only a remote chance that his bill requiring that wind turbines be a half mile from property lines will pass this year, but a task force likely will discuss the issue before next year’s legislative session.

A pair of Goodhue County residents who want stiffer rules on where wind turbines may be built and farmers from other parts of the state who say that is too restrictive took part in an hour-long debate in front of the Senate energy committee.

Kristie Rosenquist and Paul Reese supported the Howe bill to require that turbines be at least half a mile from properties not associated with a wind farm.

Industrial-sized wind turbines do not belong in areas with homes, Rosenquist said, because they produce low-intensity noise, cause headaches, produce “shadow flicker” from turbines turning in front of the sun and emit stray electricity.

Rosenquist and Reese are involved in a fight about a proposed wind farm. The case involving a Goodhue County ordinance that some say is too restrictive awaits a state Public Utilities Commission hearing.

Paynesville-area dairy farmer Ken Schefers said the Howe proposal would take excessive amounts of land out of consideration for wind farms. The bill would “absolutely end wind power,” Olmstead County farmer John Meyer added.

“You chose to hold out the open or close for business sign in Minnesota,” Meyer said.

But, Reese said, it is more important to give people a choice “what they want to live with.”

Land-rights attorney Dan Schleck said wind farm decisions are made by a case by case basis, and supported a statewide standard. The Howe bill would provide more predictability for both developers and neighbors, he said.

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