KENYON – The plug has reportedly been pulled on what could have been the largest wind project in Minnesota history.
EDP Renewables, formerly Horizon Wind, recently mailed project participants in Goodhue, Rice, Dodge and Steele counties letters informing them that the initial contract period was up and it would not be renewed, which would have required additional payments to be made. Numerous calls seeking feedback from EDP’s Texas office were not returned, but Goodhue County Planning Commission member and project participant Bernie Overby confirmed the news this week.
“We didn’t get a reason,” Overby said. “All of a sudden we got hit by these letters and we were surprised, but attitudes about (wind energy) have changed over time. Several of (the participants) were relieved.”
While details about the project remain something of a mystery since an official site permit was never filed at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, the local wind development has been in the works for years and had reportedly acquired wind rights to hundreds of thousands of acres between Zumbrota and Northfield.
Overby’s 80-acre property in rural Kenyon was tentatively slated to receive two turbines, but he wasn’t particularly upset about the news that EDP was letting the project die.
“I can tell you there are some happy people, some not happy people and some people that aren’t sure if they’re happy or unhappy,” said Overby, who was on a fishing trip and unable to recall his compensation from EDP. “Initially, it looked good, sounded good. It was a pretty good amount of money they were going to pay us to only take up about two acres of land (per turbine), but there’s been a lot of publicity about this wind stuff since we initially signed up, much of it negative.”
Minnesota is currently fifth in the country in installed wind capacity and has an ambitious goal of reaching 25 percent renewable energy by 2025. However, Goodhue County has become ground zero for the resistance due to lingering health and environmental concerns that critics feel have not been adequately addressed by state officials.
The bitterly contested 78-megawatt New Era wind project sited near Zumbrota has spent more than $14 million seeking its state permits since 2009. It’s been vigorously opposed by two citizen groups, which have spent six figures fighting the project.
Previous to that, Kenyon Wind received a state permit for an 18.9-megawatt project in 2007. However, those permits were allowed to expire in 2011 without constructing the project after a different citizens group raised similar concerns.
Another project near Goodhue developed by Geronimo Wind is currently in limbo as the New Era project is played out before a national audience.
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