Minnesota Public Utilities Commission denied AWA Goodhue Wind’s Avian and Bat Protection Plan Feb. 23 due to deficiencies. Per condition 13.1.2 of the site permit, AWA Goodhue was “to install at least two acoustic bat monitoring devices on each meteorological tower to collect data … from May 1, 2012, to November 15, 2012.” The MPUC was quite clear: May 1 is May 1.
Also, AWA Goodhue’s bat survey from last fall was missing about 50 percent of the data and was late getting started. he MPUC told AWA Goodhue Wind to “do the work.”
On May 2, Dan Hemmingsen, AWA Goodhue field specialist, came before the Belle Creek Town Board and requested building permits for three meteorological or met towers to acquire “additional” wind data and data for bat surveys.
AWA Goodhue currently has one met tower in Belle Creek Township. (This was built in February 2009 but did not receive its Goodhue County construction permit until December 2009.)
The three proposed met tower sites are also in Belle Creek Township. I was told 10 of the 48 wind turbines slated in the project are in Minneola Township. However, no met towers are proposed there.
• Are there no bats in Minneola, a rich area for birds and bats near the Zumbro River?
• Why did AWA Goodhue delay requesting permits for the latest met towers?
• Why is AWA Goodhue Wind monitoring just the northern part of the project?
• As this project is divided into two (39 megawatts north and 39 south) parts, is AWA Goodhue monitoring just the north part and giving up the southern part of the project?
• Do they know if the southern part is better habitat due to closeness to the Zumbro River?
The proposed towers are not up although data collection was ordered to start May 1.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service felt May was important for collecting data during spring bat migration. Bats are critical and necessary in an agricultural landscape, so this is a big deal!
• Spring migration is pretty much over. AWA Goodhue missed it again.
• How will data collection reflect actual bat numbers and species now?
• Does this mean pursuit of a permit is pretty much over as well?
Barbara A. Stussy
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