The turnout was good but few questions were asked during a recent public hearing for the Stoneray Wind Farm, a 105 MW project proposed for eastern Pipestone County and western Murray County.
An estimated 30 to 40 people attended the Jan. 14 public hearing at the Herbert Holtke American Legion Post 285, in Lake Wilson according to Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) spokesperson Dan Wolf. The purpose of the public hearing was to gather public input into the recently drafted environmental report.
The report lists the potential human and environmental impacts of the proposed project and potential alternatives. The report also lists what stipulations need to be followed during the construction process.
About the same number of people attended an earlier information meeting in August. Five questions were asked to of the project at that time.
Three questions were asked at the most recent meeting where representatives from the PUC, Minnesota Department of Commerce and Stoneray Wind Farm were available to provide answers. The questions pertained to if the project would move forward, what type of turbine had been selected and when the project would begin.
Wolf said his staff doesn’t interpret anything in the lack of questions asked at public hearings.
“The entire record of the case is considered by the Commission in making their final decision,” he said.
The final report will be used by the five-member PUC to determine whether or not the proposed project by EDF Renewable Energy of Minneapolis is needed, and if it should be constructed in southwest Minnesota. EDF proposes erecting up to 62-wind turbines north and east of Woodstock in Rock and Burke townships in Pipestone County and Cameron and Chanarambie townships in Murray County.
Contacted after the public meeting, Melissa Peterson, project manager with Stoneray Wind Farm, said “we are working through each phase” as the project moves forward in the permitting process, which takes nine to 12 months to complete. Stoneray’s certificate of need and site permit application was submitted in July 2013. The issuance of both is necessary before construction begins.
Late May or June has been tentatively set for the PUC to make a final decision, Wolf said.
If the PUC issues the necessary permits, Peterson said selection of the specific turbine model would be dependent on what was approved in the permit. Once construction begins, an estimated nine to 12 months is needed for construction. The timeline could be shorter or longer depending on weather conditions, she said.
The project wouldn’t be ready to go on-line until sometime in 2015, Peterson said.
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