March 1, 2013

Goodhue wind turbine project tabled by Public Utilities Commission

by Stephanie Hemphill, Minnesota Public Radio | February 28, 2013 |

A controversial wind power project in southeastern Minnesota has been delayed.

Several developments have happened at Goodhue Wind since it was proposed four years ago. It’s now called New Era Wind Farm, it has changed owners, some of the original participants have dropped out, the company is in a dispute with power purchaser Xcel Energy and the state rejected its bird and bat protection plan.

All that made for too much uncertainty for the Public Utilities Commission, which has tabled the matter.

A disappointed developer Peter Mastic said, “While New Era would have preferred an affirmative vote on our avian and bat protection plan, we appreciate the time and careful deliberation that the commission and staff made.”

PUC members said they wanted more information about the plan to install 50 turbines in Goodhue County before they could allow it to go forward. The PUC also said the company had failed to fully answer questions about its plan to protect birds and bats. Mastic said he would study the PUC’s request.

The decision also disappointed the project’s critics who wanted the agency to kill it outright by letting its outdated certificate of need lapse.

Critic Marie McNamara with the group Goodhue Wind Truth said it is appropriate for the PUC to be skeptical.

“From the very beginning there’s been misrepresentations on the part of the applicant, where homes were left off maps continuously, we filed and refiled maps,” McNamara said.

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