A long-delayed wind energy project in southeastern Minnesota might have come up against its final roadblock.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has voted not to extend New Era Wind Farm’s authority to move forward with the proposed 78-megawatt project near Goodhue, said Dan Wolf, assistant executive secretary of the PUC.
The PUC on Thursday judged that New Era could not demonstrate that it was prepared to undertake the project and that the company failed to specify a date by which the wind farm would be in service.
The PUC was also dissatisfied with New Era’s plan to mitigate any potential harm to local eagle and bat populations – a concern raised by area residents opposed to the project.
The commission also found that the transfer of a power purchase agreement with Xcel Energy from the project’s previous owner to New Era was unlawful. Minneapolis-based Xcel recently filed a lawsuit to sever the power purchase agreement.
Todd Guerrero, an attorney representing New Era, said the PUC’s decision might not be the last word on the project’s fate.
“I don’t know what they’re going to, yet,” Guerrero said Friday. “I still think they’re going to try to get the project done one way or the other. Certainly, yesterday didn’t help.”
New Era’s proposal called for 48 wind turbines to be built on a 32,700-acre site near the Belle Creek, Zumbrota and Goodhue townships.
It has faced vocal opposition from local residents for reasons including the
proximity of the turbines to their properties and the turbines’ effect on local wildlife.
The turbines were originally scheduled to be in service by Dec. 31, 2011.
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