Goodhue Wind, a 78 MW community wind project proposed for Minnesota that has come up against fierce opposition from local residents, has finally received approval from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.
Regulators approved the project on the condition that developer National Wind negotiate with residents who oppose the turbines in order to get an exemption from the half-mile county standard. In addition, the PUC is requiring that turbines be kept 1,630 feet away from properties.
Local opposition to the 78 MW project resulted in the PUC sending the case to the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) last year. The PUC wanted the administrative law judge (ALJ) to decide whether the PUC ought to consider and apply the Goodhue County ordinance to its site permit decision on the project.
In May, NAW reported that ALJ Kathleen Sheehy found several reasons why Goodhue County's restrictive wind regulations should not be applied to the Goodhue project. The recommendations – which include an interpretation of related laws and findings on the evidence regarding health, safety, sound and other issues – are consistent with the positions AWA Goodhue – the company formed by National Wind to develop the Goodhue project – advocated in the case and in its permit application.
Two groups – Goodhue Wind Truth and the Coalition for Sensible Siting – have been vocal in their opposition to the development and asking for bigger setbacks, claiming that wind turbines cause health problems.
The project has a power purchase agreement with Xcel Energy and a transmission agreement.