The county board took another small step in permitting the transmission line routes and substation for the 100-turbine Pleasant Vally Wind Farm.
The board unanimously accepted the scoping document for the environmental assessment. The document compiles a list of the public’s comments and concerns about the proposed overhead transmission line routes and substation brought up at the Nov. 5 public scoping hearing, along with additional written comments from the public.
People’s concerns included the safety of the transmission lines, health effects for people and animals living near high-power lines, effects on property values, effects on the area if the lines are knocked down by a storm and more. Others also expressed concern that the lines would wipe out trees and vegetation around the Root River. While most of the comments were negative toward the transition lines, a few written comments were submitted in support of the project.
The comments and concerns will be addressed and included in the environmental assessment, and Renewable Energy Systems Americas officials will present a draft of the assessment to the board during next week’s meeting at 1:30 p.m Tuesday. The assessment js being prepared by HDR Engineering.
According to RES officials, the scoping document’s main purpose is to help the county board make informed decisions as it moves toward approving or denying conditional use permits for the transmission lines and substation. The turbines are already approved by the state, but the Mower County board is the permitting authority for the transmission line for the transmission line and substation for the project. Comments regarding the towers will not be addressed in the environmental assessment.
RES Development Manager Justin Markell also told the board about a proposed change to one of the potential transmission line routes. RES is working to secure land for either a 5-mile or 8-mile route to connect Pleasant Valley into the Great River Energy Substation. The additional route is essentially the 8-mile route, but with the line running on a different side of a property after a request by the property owner.
RES Americas is developing Pleasant Valley for Xcel Energy, which will buy the wind farm once it’s completed. The agreement with Xcel calls for a 200 MW wind farm of 100 2-MW turbines over 35,000 acres – 88 in Mower County and 12 in Dodge County.
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