The hearing was originally scheduled for Feb. 2, but the PUC said it needed more time to review National Wind's December filing.
The avian/bat protection plan was required as a condition when the PUC issued a conditional site permit in June 2011 – the last hurdle National Wind needed to clear before it could begin construction on the $180 million project, which would cover 32,000 acres in Goodhue County, Minn.
The delay represents another turn for the 78 MW Goodhue Wind project. The permitting process has already taken more than two years due to public opposition.
According to Joe Jennings, a spokesperson for National Wind, Goodhue has a power purchase agreement with Xcel Energy, as well as an interconnection agreement. However, the project still needs its site permit. Final authority for the site permit remains with the PUC.
‘We don't see this as a setback,’ Jennings told NAW. ‘We see it as more time to build our case.’