Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens has sold his stake in a controversial wind farm proposed in Goodhue County, Minn., but its new owner says the project is going ahead.
Dallas-based American Wind Alliance, founded by Pickens in 2009, said Friday that it has sold 100 percent of the company behind the Minnesota project, whose name has been changed to New Era Wind Farm LLC. The financial terms were not disclosed.
The proposed 50-turbine wind farm, once estimated to cost $180 million, would be located west of the city of Goodhue, about 60 miles southeast of the Twin Cities. Citizens have fought the project because of concerns about potential noise and unpleasant shadows from spinning blades and about threats to protected eagles and bats that might hit the blades.
Peter Mastic, who formerly headed a Minneapolis wind development firm that worked on the project, said in an interview Friday that he is the sole employee and owner of New Era Wind Farm.
Mastic said he intends to pursue the project with the help of a local advisory board and, eventually, local investors. The advisory board of local farmers decided on the new company name, he added.
“They wanted something that signified a re-engagement with the community and a new beginning,” said Mastic, who indicated that the board members’ names will be disclosed later.
Although the project has a site permit from the state Public Utilities Commission, its avian and bat protection plan is pending. Mastic said the company will submit a revised plan and will seek a federal permit for the “incidental take” or killing of protected species.
Pickens’ company, Mesa Power, said it believes the Goodhue project will be built. “For strategic reasons, Mesa Power is redeploying its wind development efforts,” the company said in a statement.
Mastic said he will go ahead with the project even if the federal production tax credit for wind farms is allowed to expire on Dec. 31. The fate of many wind energy projects hinges on whether the subsidy is extended by Congress, which won’t consider the matter before the elections.
Xcel Energy, based in Minneapolis, would buy electricity from the wind farm as part of a commitment under a state law to purchase energy from community-based producers.
Until July, Mastic was the CEO of Minneapolis-based National Wind, which launched the Goodhue project, but ended its role as developer in August. National Wind recently was acquired by Trishe Wind Energy Inc., a wind development group based in India.
Pickens, a Texas oil and gas entrepreneur, was recently listed by Forbes magazine as the 360th richest American, with a net worth of $1.2 billion.
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