Minnesota-based Allete Clean Energy has been ordered to dismantle a wind turbine tower in its Bison 4 wind farm in Oliver County, because it is too close to an occupied residence.
The turbine in question is 1100 feet from a farmstead owned by Keith and Deanna Kessler.
The company had agreed to have a 1400 foot setback from occupied residences. The company asserted that the farmstead was unoccupied. The Kesslers said the farmstead was occupied part of the time, and that they were paying utility bills and taxes on the property.
“We determined that it is an occupied residence under the siting act,” said Public Service Commission chairman Julie Fedorchak. “Existence of Turban 441 at that location does violate this order. So it needs to be removed.”
Keith Kessler called it a victory for landowners.
“I know it’s uncommon for a small landowner to go up against a big company like this,” Kessler told reporters. “We didn’t do it just for ourselves – we did it for future generations.”
Under the order, the company has six months to remove it – or it can ask for an extension.
Commissioners said it will likely lead to more questions by Commissioners and staff when it comes to siting issues.
Commissioner Brian Kroshus said this sends a clear message to companies.
“Don’t make assumptions when you are evaluating, and going through the process of submitting a siting application,” Kroshus said. “That burden falls on the company, not the landowner, to determine whether a residence is occupied or not occupied.”
Commission staffers say it will likely cost the company a lot of money to take down the turbine.
Allete has not said if it will challenge the PSC’s decision in court.
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