I’m wondering what is going on in Freeborn County with the Freeborn Wind project. It was great to see that the county commissioners did not move on giving the wind company public access as if they were a public utility. They are not. Good decision, Freeborn County.
And what is going on at the state? First, Freeborn Wind LLC has not provided information on a decommissioning plan in their application. It is required by MN Statute 7854.0500 that an applicant in their wind application provide: a.) Anticipated life of the project, b.) Estimated decommissioning costs in current dollars (clock is ticking here), c.) Method and schedule for updating those costs (clock still ticking), d.) Method of ensuring funds will be available for decommissioning, e.) Anticipated manner in which the project will be decommissioned and the site restored. This has never been enforced. The state is affording the public no chance to comment on the missing decommissioning plan. This is counter to law.
Second, we now learn of secret meetings prior to the reconsideration hearing for the permit at the PUC Sept. 20, 2018. Despite the administrative law judge’s recommendation the permit be denied, secret meetings were held and the agreements paved the way for a permit. Freeborn Wind’s own admission in their Request for Clarification exposed the deal. These emails between Department of Commerce, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the wind company contain admissions that the Minnesota noise standard cannot be met.
MPCA earlier wrote of their disagreement with the wind company’s position that noise is comprised of only turbine noise, absent other noise. And MPCA consistently interpreted and applied noise standards as “total sound,” noting that the total sound levels at any receptor should “meet state standards in Minnesota Rule Chapter 7030.0040, regardless of the sources contributing to the total sound levels.”
Maybe that is why Freeborn Wind produced a chart, proposing changes to ground absorption. Minnesota frozen ground is at zero six months a year. Wind turbines are high off the ground, making sound travel. The new chart shows 0.0 changed to 0.5, hiding 3 dB(A), and allowing a doubling sound. Ah, this would allow the noise standard to be met. That’s what’s going on.
Third, there’s improper political pressure. Gov. Walz, then Congressman Walz, submitted a letter supporting Freeborn Wind project and supporting “his constituent,” a wind company employee with an Illinois address. The congressman’s staff claimed it was a clerical error. That’s a handy excuse.
Looking at the missing decommissioning plans, secret meetings with a surprise manufactured new ground factor and letters supporting Illinois constituents has all worn thin – as the public and the DNR with environmental concerns are shut out. Oh, did I mention the wind company doesn’t have all the land secured? High time for the PUC to pull the plug on this project and for Gov. Walz to listen to real constituents in Greater Minnesota. Freeborn Wind Project must not be permitted. Freeborn County and other rural Minnesota communities, like my Goodhue County community, should not be subjected to unwanted projects that cannot meet state standards.
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