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Planners back wind power proposal

The Morton County Planning and Zoning Commission Thursday gave a favorable recommendation for a special use permit for a wind farm planned for 10 miles northeast of Hebron for Allete Clean Energy.

It would produce a total of 100 megawatts of energy. Forty-two of the 51 wind turbines are proposed for Morton County and nine would be in placed in Mercer County. The wind project needs 16 miles of access road. Final approval is still needed on the project by the Morton County Commission and the state Public Service Commission before it’s fully permitted.

Dwight Anderson, manager of technical development for Allete, said building the project will not start until a buyer is found for the power, but he said they are negotiating with possible customers. “It all depends on the party,” he said of the project’s timeline.

Dan McCourtney, a representative of Minnesota Power made the request for Allete Clean Energy, a subsidiary of Allete, to the planning commission. Minnesota Power is an operational branch of Allete

.According to planning commissioner Andy Zachmeier, the wind project would be located northeast of Hebron near the Morton County-Mercer County line.

Planning commissioners found no issues with the proposed setbacks of the project. McCourtney said all of the wind turbines planned would meet the state standard of being 1,400 feet away from residences to lower noise. “Every house within this project area would be below 45 decibels. The closest house would be approximately 1,600 feet away,” he said.

McCourtney said if the wind farm stops operating Allete Clean Energy’s reclamation plan involves “disbanding all of the turbines, scrap(ping) the parts to it, remove the stuff off the site and when we’re done we come back and we top soil it and then it’s back to where it was before there was ever a wind turbine out there,” he said.

Zachmeier expects the project could bring in $117,000 in permitting fees to the county.