Goodhue Wind Truth Appeal II

Goodhue Wind Truth Appeal II
Legalectric, Inc.
Carol Overland
Attorney at Law, MN #254617
Energy Consultant—Transmission, Power Plants, Nuclear Waste
[email protected]
1110 West Avenue
Red Wing, Minnesota 55066
612.227.8638
P.O. Box 69
Port Penn, Delaware 19731
302.834.3466
December 12, 2011
Clerk of Appellate Court
Minnesota Court of Appeals
305 Minnesota Judicial Center
25 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155
RE:
In the Matter of the Application of AWA Goodhue Wind, LLC, for a Certificate of Need
and Large Wind Energy Conversion System Site Permit for the 78 MW Goodhue Wind
Project in Goodhue County
MPUC Dockets: IP-6701/CN-09-1186 and WS-08-1233
OAH Dockets 8-2500-21395-2 and 3-2500-21662-2
Dear Clerk of Appellate Court:
Enclosed for filing on behalf of Goodhue Wind Truth, please find:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Order of Appellate Court (No additional filing fees shall be required for the new appeals)
Petition for Writ of Certiorari & Writ
Waiver of Cost Bond (copy – the original will be filed by mail when received)
Statement of the Case – 2 copies
Order of the Public Utilities Commission
The Affidavit of Service of the above filings and original Waiver of Cost Bond will be filed separately.
If you have any questions, or require anything further, please let me know.
Very truly yours
Carol A. Overland
Attorney at Law
cc:
Parties of Record – Attached Service List
AFFIDAVIT OF SERVICE
Carol A. Overland, after being duly sworn, states that on this date, by depositing in envelopes
with postage paid in the U.S. Mail in Red Wing, Minnesota, I have served a true and correct
copy of Cover Letter, Appeal Filings, and Affidavit of Service to all parties of record in the
above-entitled matter:
Attorney for Minnesota Public Utilities Commission:
Lori Swanson
Minnesota Attorney General
445 Minnesota St., 1400 Bremer Tower
St. Paul, MN 55101
Attorney for Applicant AWA Goodhue Wind:
Todd Guerero
Fredrickson & Byron, P.A.
200 So. 6th St., Suite 4000
Mpls, MN 55402-1425
Attorney for Coalition for Sensible Siting:
Daniel S. Schleck
Mansfield Tanick & Cohen, P.A.
220 So. 6th St., Suite 1700
Mpls, MN 55402-1425
Anna Jenks
Assistant Attorney General
445 Minnesota St., 1100 Bremer Tower
St. Paul, MN 55101
Attorney for Goodhue County:
Steve Betcher, County Attorney
Goodhue County Justice Center
454 West 6th St.
Red Wing, MN 55066
Attorney for Belle Creek Township:
Troy Gilchrist
Kennedy & Graven
200 So. 6th St., Suite 470
Mpls., MN 55402
Attorney for Minnesota Department of Commerce & Energy Facilities Permitting:
Julia Anderson
Assistant Attorney General
Bremer Tower, Suite 1400
445 Minnesota Street
St. Paul, MN 55101-2131
December 12, 2011
Signed and sworn to before me this
12th day of December, 2011
________________________________
Notary Public
Karen F. Hammel
Assistant Attorney General
Bremmer Tower, Suite 1400
445 Minnesota Street
St. Paul, MN 55101-2131
___________________________________
Carol A. Overland
#254617
Attorney at Law
OVERLAND LAW OFFICE
1110 West Avenue
Red Wing, MN 55066
(612) 227-8638 [email protected]
STATE OF MINNESOTA
November 1, 2011
IN COURT OF APPEALS
____________________________________
In the Matter of the Application of
AWA Goodhue Wind, LLC, for a Site
Permit for a 78 Megawatt Large Wind
Energy Conversion System Project in
Goodhue County.
ORDER
A11-1681
A11-1689
A11-1691
A11-1692
____________________________________
Considered and decided by Johnson, Chief Judge; Wright, Judge; and Connolly,
Judge.
BASED ON THE FILE, RECORD, AND PROCEEDINGS, AND FOR THE
FOLLOWING REASONS:
In an order filed on October 3, 2011, we consolidated these certiorari appeals by
Belle Creek Township, Goodhue Wind Truth, Goodhue County, and the Coalition for
Sensible Siting (A11-1681, A11-1689, A11-1691, and A11-1692, respectively). Relators
seek review of decisions issued by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (the
MPUC) on August 23, 2011, granting applications by respondent AWA Goodhue Wind,
LLC, for a certificate of need and a site permit to construct, operate, maintain, and
manage a large wind energy conversion system (LWECS) in Goodhue County. Because
relators indicated that their motions for reconsideration were still pending before the
MPUC, this court questioned jurisdiction. The MPUC, relators, and respondent AWA
Goodhue Wind filed jurisdiction memoranda.
In a certiorari appeal, the appeal period and the acts required to invoke appellate
jurisdiction are governed by the applicable statute. Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 115.01. The
MPUC states that relators filed timely requests for reconsideration regarding the order
issued on August 23, 2011, that granted the certificate of need, but that relators’ requests
for reconsideration were not filed within the time required for reconsideration of the
order issued on August 23, 2011, granting the site permit. Although the MPUC argues
that the appeal of the August 23 order granting the site permit is not premature, the
MPUC and the other parties agree that the appeals should be either dismissed or stayed to
allow the MPUC to rule on the pending requests for reconsideration.
See Little v.
Arrowhead Reg’l Corr., 773 N.W.2d 344, 346 (Minn. App. 2009) (stating that even when
an appeal is not premature due to a pending request for reconsideration, a pending
postdecision motion provides an appropriate basis for deferring appellate review so that
the original decision-maker can address the motion).
Within 20 days after the service by the MPUC of any decision constituting an
order or determination, any party to the proceeding and any other person, aggrieved by
the decision and directly affected thereby, may apply to the MPUC for a rehearing.
Minn. Stat. § 216B.27, subd. 1 (2010). Any party to a proceeding before the commission
or any other person, aggrieved by a decision and order and directly affected by it, may
appeal from the decision and order of the MPUC in accordance with chapter 14. Minn.
Stat. § 216B.52, subd. 1 (2010).
2
Any applicant, party, or person aggrieved by the issuance of a site permit or by a
final order of the MPUC, may appeal to the court of appeals in accordance with chapter
14. Minn. Stat. § 216F.02(a) (2010) (incorporating Minn. Stat. § 216E.15). A request for
reconsideration may be made within 10 days after the decision and order of the agency.
Minn. Stat. § 14.64 (2010). Relators’ requests for reconsideration were made within 20
days after issuance of the orders on August 23, 2011, but the MPUC contends that the
requests for reconsideration regarding the issuance of the site permit were not timely
because they were not made within 10 days after the order as required by Minn. Stat.
§ 14.64.
The general provisions of chapter 14 do not supersede more specific provisions
governing appeals from the public utilities commission. In re Complaint Against N.
States Power Co., 447 N.W.2d 614, 615 (Minn. App. 1989), review denied (Minn. Dec.
15, 1989).
The more specific provision controls.
Id.
Because under Minn. Stat.
§ 216B.27, subd. 1, the MPUC has jurisdiction to consider requests for reconsideration
made within 20 days after service of the decision, relators’ requests for reconsideration
of both the August 23 order granting the certificate of need and the August 23 order
granting the site permit were timely.
Therefore, we will dismiss these appeals as
premature.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:
1.
The consolidated appeals are dismissed as premature.
3
2.
If necessary, relators may file new appeals after the Minnesota Public
Utilities Commission has ruled on the pending requests for reconsideration.
No
additional filing fees shall be required for the new appeals. Relators shall file a copy of
this order with the appeal papers for the new appeals, if any.
Dated: November 1, 2011
BY THE COURT
/s/_______________________________
Matthew E. Johnson
Chief Judge
4
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the Application of
AWA Goodhue Wind, LLC, for a
Certificate of Need and a Large
Wind Energy Conversion System
Site Permit for the 78 MW Goodhue
Wind Project in Goodhue County
PETITION FOR
WRIT OF CERTIORARI
Court of Appeals Case No.: ____________
AGENCY DOCKET NUMBERS:
PUC Dockets: IP-6701/ WS-08-1233
IP-6701/CN-09-1186
OAH DOCKET NUMBERS:
OAH Dockets. 3-2500-21662-2
8-2500-21395-2
Date of Decision Triggering Appeal Time: November 14, 2011
TO: THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:
Goodhue Wind Truth (“Petitioner”) hereby Petitions the Court of Appeals for a
Writ of Certiorari to review the attached August 23, 2011 decision of the Minnesota
Public Utilities Commission (“PUC”) granting a Certificate of Need and Siting Permit to
Applicant AWA Goodhue for the Goodhue Wind Project. On November14,2011, the
PUC issued its Order and denied various parties’ Motions for Reconsideration and
Reopening.
The PUC’s decisions were erroneous under Minnesota’s Certificate of Need
statute, Minn. Stat. §216B.243; based on misstatements of the issue before Commission;
reliance on “General Permit Standards” which do not exist and would not apply to 78MW
project; improper adoption of “EFP Findings of Fact and Order; improper
characterization of a project as C-BED under Minn. Stat. §216B.1691; and failure to
address new information regarding wind sound levels; eagle nests and foraging and
roosting areas; and procedurally improper environmental review. Appeals from final
Public Utilities Commission decisions are taken pursuant to the Minnesota
Administrative Procedures Act, Minn. Stat. §§216B.52 and 216E.05. The Administrative
Procedures Act authorizes review in the Court of Appeals by Writ of Certiorari. Minn.
Stat. §14.63; see also Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 103.03(g) and 115.01.
December 12, 2011
__________________________________
Carol A. Overland
#254617
Attorney at Law
OVERLAND LAW OFFICE
1110 West Avenue
Red Wing, MN 55066
(612) 227-8638
[email protected]
www.legalectric.org
ATTORNEY FOR PETITIONER
GOODHUE WIND TRUTH
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the Application of
AWA Goodhue Wind, LLC, for a
Certificate of Need and a Large
Wind Energy Conversion System
Site Permit for the 78 MW Goodhue
Wind Project in Goodhue County
WRIT OF CERTIORARI
Court of Appeals Case No.: ________________
AGENCY DOCKET NUMBERS:
PUC Dockets: IP-6701/ WS-08-1233
IP-6701/CN-09-1186
OAH DOCKET NUMBERS:
OAH Dockets. 3-2500-21662-2
8-2500-21395-2
Date of Decision Triggering Appeal Time: November 14, 2011
TO: PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION:
You are hereby ordered to return to the Court of Appeals within 10 days after the date
Relator's brief is due the record, exhibits and proceedings in the above-entitled matter (PUC
Dockets IP-6701/CN-09-1186 and IP-6701/WS-08-1233; OAH Dockets. 8-2500-21395-2 and
3-2500-21662-2) so that this court may review the decision of the agency issued on the date
noted above.
Copies of this writ and accompanying petition shall be served forthwith either personally
or by mail upon the respondent Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, its counsel listed below,
and upon the official parties in the above-captioned case.
Anna Jenks, Asst. Attorney General
ATTORNEY FOR RESPONDENT PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION
445 Minnesota Street
Bremer Tower, Suite 1100
St. Paul, MN 55101
Proof of service shall be filed with the Clerk of the Appellate Courts.
DATED:
Clerk of Appellate Courts
(Clerk's File Stamp)
By: _______________________
Assistant Clerk
STATE OF MINNESOTA
COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the Application of AWA
Goodhue Wind, LLC for a Certificate of
Need for a 78 MW Wind Project and
Associated Facilities in Goodhue County
In the Matter of the Application of AWA
Goodhue Wind, LLC for a Site Permit for a
78 Megawatt Large Wind Energy
Conversion System Project in Goodhue
County
WAIVER OF COST BOND
Court of Appeals Number:
AGENCY DOCKET NUMBERS:
PUC DOCKETS: IP-6701/CN-09-1 186
IP-6701/WS-08-1 233
OAH DOCKET NUMBERS:
OAH Dockets. 3-2500-21662-2
8-2500-21395-2
Date of Decision: November 14, 2011
The Respondent, Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, hereby waives the
requirements of Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 107.01 that Relator, Goodhue Wind Truth, file a
cost bond in connection with Relator’s Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the abovecaptioned matter.
a
Dated: a ?!iIjvz
12, e?12//
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
State of Minnesota
a~~4~ e J-~~
ANNA E. JENK
Assistant Attorney General
Atty. Reg. No. 0342737
445 Minnesota Street, Suite 1100
St. Paul, Minnesota 55 101-2128
(651) 757-1262 (Voice)
(651) 296-1410 (TTY)
ATTORNEY FOR RESPONDENT
MINNESOTA PUBLIC UTILITIES
COMMISSION
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the Application of
AWA Goodhue Wind, LLC, for a
Certificate of Need and a
Large Wind Energy Conversion System
Site Permit and Certificate of Need for the
78 MW Goodhue Wind Project
in Goodhue County
STATEMENT OF THE CASE
PUC Dockets: IP-6701/CN-09-1186 and WS-08-1233
OAH Dockets. 8-2500-21395-2 and 3-2500-21662-2
Court of Appeals Case No.: ___________________
Dates of Decision Triggering Appeal Time:
November 14, 2011
Relator Goodhue Wind Truth, for its Statement of the Case, states as follows:
1. Agency of case origination:
This case originated with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (hereinafter “PUC”).
The Commission ordered a Public Hearing, and later referred certain issues to the Minnesota
Office of Administrative Hearings for contested case evidentiary proceedings, presided over by
Administrative Law Judge Kathleen Sheehy, after which ALJ Sheehy issued a Recommendation
to the PUC. The PUC then made its decision of August 23, 2011, and then denied the various
Motions and Petitions for Reconsideration, Rehearing and Reopening on November 14, 2011.
2. Jurisdictional statement
Appeals from final Public Utilities Commission decisions are taken pursuant to the
Minnesota Administrative Procedures Act, Minn. Stat. §216B.52 and §216E.15. The
Administrative Procedures Act authorizes review in the Court of Appeals by writ of certiorari.
Minn. Stat. §14.63; Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 103.03(g) and 115.01.
1
Relators appeal the PUC’s final decision on the matter, its August 23, 2011 order granting
Certificate of Need and Siting Permit for the AWA Goodhue Wind Project and the PUC’s
November 14, 2011 denial of the parties’ Motions for Reconsideration. This appeal is timely
filed no more than 30 days after the PUC’s November 14, 2011 Order (Minn. Stat. §14.64).
3. State type of litigation and designate any statutes at issue.
This is a case of first impression, an appeal of a Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
action, a state agency action, that followed an OAH Public Hearing incorporating both
Certificate of Need and Siting dockets (OAH Docket 8-2500-21395-2), and an OAH contested
case hearing (OAH Docket 15-2500-19350-2) on narrowly specified issues, under the
Minnesota Administrative Procedures Act, Minn. Stat. Ch. 14. The specific statutes at issue are
Minn. Stat. §216F.081, C-BED §216B.1612; Certificate of Need Statute, Minn. Stat. §216B.243
and rules, wind siting under Minn. Stat. Ch. 216F and rules.
4. Brief description of claims, defenses, issues litigated and result below.
This appeal will address whether the Commission should apply the Goodhue County Article
18 Wind Ordinance or whether the Commission has good cause not to apply Goodhue County’s
Ordinance, as required by Minn. Stat. §216F.081, an issue of first impression. Also at issue in
this case is whether the Commission correctly represented the issue before it, whether there are
wind siting standards for projects greater than 25MW, the Commission’s adoption of “EFP
Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order,” and whether this project is a C-BED Project
under Minn. Stat. §216B.1612.
5. List specific issues proposed to be raised on appeal.
The errors of law to be raised include:
•
The Commission’s Siting Order grossly misrepresents the issue before the Commission as
“whether applying the County’s standards to this Project is necessary and whether less
2
stringent standards are sufficient to effectively address the concerns raised.” Order, p. 7.
This is NOT the issue. The issue before the Commission is whether there is good cause
not to apply the Goodhue County Ordinance. Minn. Stat. §216F.081.
• The Commission’s Siting Order repeatedly errs in stating there are standards for
wind projects greater than 25MW when there are none, and repeatedly cut the
citation and name of the Commission’s Order to “Order Establishing General
Wind Permit Standards” when citing standards for over 25MW. Order, In the
Matter of Establishment of General Permit Standards for the Siting of Wind
Generation Projects Less than 25 Megawatts, Docket No. E, G-999/M-07-1102.
•
The Commission’s Siting Order adopted “EFP Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and
Order, Issuing a Site Permit to AWA Goodhue Wind, LLC for the Goodhue Wind
Project,” a second order in the siting docket, an error of law. Most of the EFP’s“Findings
of Fact” have no citations to the record, and many are unsupported by the record or the
record demonstrates otherwise.
•
In review of the Commission’s Certificate of Need and Siting Permit, the AWA Goodhue
wind project is not a Community Based Energy Development (C-BED) project. The
project was dramatically changed, and as demonstrated in the record, it is now 99% owned
by a Texas business organization owned by T. Boone Pickens. Minn. Stat. §216B.1612.
In addition to these significant errors of law, the Commission’s Order is riddled with other errors:
•
Non-party Wind on the Wires’ comments are given undue status and weight. WOW, until
recently, was a program of the Izaak Walton League. The League’s long-time Executive
Director Bill Grant, is now appointed to Commerce, heading Energy Facilities Permitting.
•
The “Procedural History” is missing many significant points along the road to the August
23, 2011 Order, and the Order mistakenly implies that the yearlong development of the
October 5, 2010 Goodhue County Ordinance was a sudden surprise.
There are also issues regarding Environmental Review. The Commission’s Certificate of
Need Order claims there was review of the Environmental Report (there is no environmental
review for siting a wind project), but the Environmental Report for this project was not filed in
and is not present in the Certificate of Need docket! The Environmental Report was inadequate
because the information presented by the applicants was not independently verified by the Dept.
of Commerce, information regarding protected species including eagles and loggerhead shrike
3
was not adequately considered, and the Bent Tree sound study was released just before the
Commission meeting and was not addressed and not considered by the Commission.
6. Related appeals.
Upon information and belief, other intervenors in this PUC docket may be appealing the
Commission’s decision, although none are known to have been filed. There are no prior or
pending appeals in separate actions raising similar issues. Goodhue Wind Truth requests
consolidation of expected multiple appeals of the AWA Goodhue Wind Project decisions.
7. Contents of record.
There is an extensive record of the PUC proceeding. For the purposes of Rules 115.04,
subd. 1 and 110.02, subd. 1(c), Relator provides notice that a transcript is not necessary to review
the issues on appeal because the transcript has been prepared of public and evidentiary hearings
and agency decisional hearings in this matter, and the original transcript is part of the record and
is on file with the PUC. These transcripts, and the record, will be transmitted to the Court of
Appeals under Rule 111.01. Trout Unlimited, Inc. v. Minn. Dep’t of Agriculture, 528 N.W. 2d
903, 908 (Minn. App. 1995) (all documents “available and in the possession of” the agency are
part of the record.).
Regarding the OAH dockets and transcripts, it is important to note that the Commission
ordered that the Public Hearing, typically only required for the Certificate of Need docket was, in
this case, specified to also to include Siting issues and comments:
4.
The request of Goodhue Wind Truth for a contested case hearing on AWA
Goodhue, LLC’s request for a site permit is denied. The scope of the public
hearing on the Applicants’ request for a Certificate of Need proceeding in
Docket No. IP-6701/CN-09-1186 is hereby expanded to the extent feasible to
include siting matters related to the Draft Site Permit Issued in this Order.
4
PUC Order, May 30, 3020, Order Point 4 (emphasis added). Under the Commission’s order, the
record developed before OAH’s Judge Lipman on July 21 and 22, 2010, in OAH Docket 8-250021395-2, is applicable to the Siting docket.
8. Is oral argument requested?
Yes. At another location? No.
9. Identify the type of brief to be filed.
Formal brief under Rule 128.02.
10. Names, addresses, zip codes and telephone numbers of attorneys:
Relator Goodhue Wind Truth’s Counsel
Carol Overland #254617
Overland Law Office - Legalectric
1110 West Avenue
Red Wing, MN 55066
[email protected]
(612) 227-8638
Respondent Public Utilities Commission’s Counsel
Lori Swanson
Minnesota Attorney General
445 Minnesota St., 1400 Bremer Tower
St. Paul, MN 55101
(651) 296-6196
Anna Jenks
Assistant Attorney General
445 Minnesota St., 1100 Bremer Tower
St. Paul, MN 55101
(651)757-1262 [email protected]
Attorney for Applicant AWA Goodhue Wind:
Attorney for Goodhue County:
Todd Guerero
Fredrickson & Byron, P.A.
200 So. 6th St., Suite 4000
Mpls, MN 55402-1425
(612) 492-7370
[email protected]
Steve Betcher, County Attorney
Goodhue County Justice Center
454 West 6th St.
Red Wing, MN 55066
(651) 267-4950
[email protected]
Attorney for Coalition for Sensible Siting:
Attorney for Belle Creek Township:
Daniel S. Schleck
Mansfield Tanick & Cohen, P.A.
220 So. 6th St., Suite 1700
Mpls, MN 55402-1425
(612) 339-4295
[email protected]
Troy Gilchrist
Kennedy & Graven
200 So. 6th St., Suite 470
Mpls., MN 55402
(612) 337-9214
[email protected]
5
Attorney for Minnesota Department of Commerce & Energy Facilities Permitting:
Julia Anderson
Assistant Attorney General
Bremer Tower, Suite 1400
445 Minnesota Street
St. Paul, MN 55101-2131
(651) 757-1202
[email protected]
Karen F. Hammel
Assistant Attorney General
Bremmer Tower, Suite 1400
445 Minnesota Street
St. Paul, MN 55101-2131
(651) 297-1852
[email protected]
December 12, 2011
___________________________________
Carol A. Overland
#254617
Attorney at Law
OVERLAND LAW OFFICE
1110 West Avenue
Red Wing, MN 55066
(612) 227-8638
[email protected]
ATTORNEY FOR
GOODHUE WIND TRUTH
6
BEFORE THE MINNESOTA PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION
Ellen Anderson
David C. Boyd
J. Dennis O’Brien
Phyllis A. Reha
Betsy Wergin
Chair
Commissioner
Commissioner
Commissioner
Commissioner
ISSUE DATE: November 14, 2011
In the Matter of the Application of AWA
Goodhue Wind, LLC for a Certificate of Need
for a 78 MW Wind Project and Associated
Facilities in Goodhue County
DOCKET NO. IP-6701/CN-09-1186
DOCKET NO. IP-6701/WS-08-1233
In the Matter of the Application of AWA
Goodhue Wind, LLC for a Site Permit for a
78 Megawatt Large Wind Energy Conversion
System Project in Goodhue County
ORDER DENYING RECONSIDERATION
PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On August 23, 2011, the Commission issued its Order Granting Certificate of Need in Docket No.
IP-6701/CN-09-1186 and its Order Issuing Site Permit as Amended in Docket No.
IP-6701/WS-08-1233.
On September 12 and 13, 2011, the Commission received petitions for reconsideration from
Goodhue County, Goodhue Wind Truth, the Coalition for Sensible Siting, and Belle Creek
Township. The Commission also received reconsideration petitions from Representative
Tim Kelly, and from the following individuals: Scott Logan, Leann Husband, Erin Logan,
Chris Buck, Connie Ludwig, Sandra O’Neill, Jennifer Ohnstad, Julie Huneke, Kristi Rosenquist,
Bob Rosenquist, Mary Hartman, Bill O’Reilly, Sam Sharpen, Jean Schulte, Rochelle Nygaard,
Thomas Gale, and Rick Conrad.
On September 22, 2011, AWA Goodhue, LLC filed comments opposing the reconsideration
petitions.
On November 10, 2011, the Commission met to consider the matter.
FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS
The Commission has reviewed the entire record and the arguments of all parties.
Based upon this review, the Commission finds that the filings of the parties do not raise new
issues, do not point to new and relevant evidence, do not expose errors or ambiguities in the
1
August 23, 2011 Orders, and do not otherwise persuade the Commission that it should rethink the
decisions set forth in those Orders. The Commission concludes that those decisions are consistent
with the facts, the law, and the public interest, and will therefore deny the petitions for
reconsideration.
The Commission will so order.
ORDER
1.
The petitions for reconsideration are hereby denied.
2.
This Order shall become effective immediately.
BY ORDER OF THE COMMISSION
Burl W. Haar
Executive Secretary
This document can be made available in alternative formats (i.e., large print or audio tape) by
calling 651.296.0406 (voice). Persons with hearing or speech disabilities may call us through
Minnesota Relay at 1.800.627.3529 or by dialing 711.
2
BEFORE THE MINNESOTA PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION
Ellen Anderson
David C. Boyd
J. Dennis O’Brien
Phyllis A. Reha
Betsy Wergin
Chair
Commissioner
Commissioner
Commissioner
Commissioner
ISSUE DATE: August 23, 2011
In the Matter of the Application of AWA
Goodhue Wind, LLC for a Site Permit for a 78
Megawatt Large Wind Energy Conversion
System Project in Goodhue County
DOCKET NO. IP-6701/WS-08-1233
ORDER ISSUING SITE PERMIT AS
AMENDED
PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On October 19, 2009, AWA Goodhue Wind, LLC (AWA Goodhue or the Applicant) filed its
revised site permit application for a large wind energy conversion system. The Applicant also
requested a Certificate of Need for the Project, which the Commission approved in Docket No.
IP-6701/CN-09-1186.
On November 30, 2009, the Commission accepted the Applicant’s site permit application for the
Goodhue Wind Project (the Project).
Between July 21 and 22, 2010, four public hearings were held at the Goodhue High School in the
City of Goodhue. Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Eric L. Lipman presided over the hearings and
submitted his Summary of Public Testimony on September 7, 2010.
On October 5, 2010, Goodhue County’s (the County) Board of Commissioners adopted an
amendment to Article 18 of the County Zoning Ordinance governing wind projects.
On November 2, 2010, the Commission issued a Notice and Order for Hearing, referring the
matter of the applicability of Goodhue County’s ordinance standards on the Goodhue Wind
Project to the Office of Administrative Hearings for contested case proceedings.
On April 29, 2011, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) assigned to the case submitted her
FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS (the ALJ’s Report).
On May 16, 2011, exceptions to the ALJ’s Report were filed by: the Applicant, Goodhue County,
an intervenor, and the following additional intervenors: Belle Creek Township, Goodhue Wind
Truth, and the Coalition for Sensible Siting (the Intervenors). The Commission also received
exceptions to the ALJ’s Report from the Department of Natural Resources and from members of
the public.
1
On June 20, 2011, the Energy Facilities Permitting Unit of the Department of Commerce (EFP)
filed comments and recommended that the Commission adopt the ALJ’s report and issue a site
permit to the Applicant; the EFP’s filing also included its proposed Findings and Conclusions.
On June 30, 2011, the Commission met to consider the matter, and the record closed under Minn.
Stat. § 14.61, subd. 2.
FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS
I.
Background
AWA Goodhue has requested a site permit for construction of up to 50 General Electric
1.5 MW xle and 1.6 MW xle wind generators mounted on 262-foot towers with a rotor diameter of
271 feet. The overall height of the tower, nacelle, and blade will be approximately 397 feet. The
Project will have a nameplate capacity of 78 MW and will generate between 230,000,000 and
270,000,000 kilowatt hours annually. The Project includes buried collection cables, associated
access roads, an Operation and Maintenance building, two project substations, and connection to
an existing 69 kV transmission line near the existing Goodhue Substation.
The Project will be located in southeastern Goodhue County on agricultural land west of the City
of Goodhue and north of the City of Zumbrota. The Project boundary encompasses approximately
32,684 acres and includes portions of the following townships: Belle Creek, Minneola, Vasa,
Goodhue, and Zumbrota.
The site permit is subject to the conditions set forth in Minn. Stat., Chapter 216F and Minnesota
Rules, Chapter 7854, which govern the siting of Large Wind Energy Conversion Systems
(LWECS).
In addition, Xcel Energy has entered into purchase power agreements with AWA Goodhue for the
purchase of the Project’s total output of 78 MW.1 The Commission approved those agreements
under the C-BED 2 statute 3, which operates in conjunction with other state policy initiatives
encouraging renewable generation, including the Renewable Energy Standards (RES), contained
in Minn. Stat. §216B.1691.
The RES require utilities to generate or procure specific percentages of their total retail sales using
eligible renewable technologies by specific deadlines. By 2020, 24 percent of Xcel Energy’s total
retail electric sales must be generated by wind energy. 4
1
The Commission approved those agreements on April 28, 2010 in Docket Nos. E-002/M-09-1349 and
E-002/M-09-1350.
2
C-BED means community-based energy development under Minn. Stat. § 216B.1612.
3
Minn. Stat. § 216B.1612.
4
Minn. Stat. § 216B.1691, subd. 2(a).
2
II.
The ALJ’s Report
The ALJ issued her Report on April 29, 2011. The Report addresses Goodhue County’s Wind
Energy Conversion System Regulations, as set forth in Article 18 of the County’s Zoning
Ordinance. The Report includes findings on issues, which the Commission requested to be
developed in its
November 2, 2010 Notice and Order for Hearing. The Commission specifically requested the
following:
1.
that the ALJ develop a record on every standard in Article 18 that is more stringent
than what the Commission has heretofore applied to LWECS and make
recommendations regarding each such standard whether the Commission should
adopt it for Large Wind Energy Conversion Systems in Goodhue County. The
Commission has identified two such standards in this Order (Section 4 and Section
6) but is not by this Order restricting the ALJ from developing the record and
making recommendations regarding additional standards in Article 18 that upon
further examination meet the “more stringent” qualification;
2.
that the ALJ allow the parties to develop a factual record on the question of “good
cause” as that term appears in Minn. Stat § 216F.081 and to provide
recommendations on whether, with respect to each standard in Article 18 identified
in the course of her review as “more stringent” than what the Commission has
heretofore applied to LWECS, there is “good cause” for the Commission to not
apply the standard to siting LWECS in Goodhue County; and
3.
as the ALJ addresses the issues identified in the previous two sections, the ALJ is
requested to include (but not limited to, by this Order) whether there is sufficient
evidence regarding health and safety to support a 10-rotor diameter setback for
non-participating residents and the stray voltage requirements.
The ALJ’s Report consists of a summary of the comments made, 179 findings and conclusions,
and a recommendation that the Commission issue an Order consistent with the findings and
conclusions, which support issuing a site permit for the Project.
Having itself examined the record and having considered the Report of the Administrative Law
Judge, the Commission concurs in most of her findings and conclusions. On some issues, however,
the Commission reaches different conclusions, as delineated and explained below. On all other
issues, the Commission accepts, adopts, and incorporates her findings, conclusions, and
recommendation.
The issues disputed among the parties are addressed below.
III.
Public Comments
The Commission received dozens of public comments on the Project throughout the duration of
these proceedings. The Commission also heard from state representatives, including at the
Commission’s June 30 meeting. Representative Steve Drazkowski and Representative Tim Kelly,
both representing portions of Goodhue County, attended the Commission meeting on the matter
3
and urged the Commission to apply the County’s ordinance standards. Members of the public also
appeared expressing their views and concerns regarding the Project.
The Commission respects the concerns raised by landowners, businesses, and state representatives
of Goodhue County in this proceeding, and the level of their involvement. The Commission
recognizes that its decision affects residents, landowners, and businesses in the Project area, and
has carefully weighed the evidence presented and the issues raised.
IV.
Applicability of Minn. Stat. § 216F.081
A.
Introduction
Minn. Stat. § 216F.081 governs the applicability of county standards adopted for Large Wind
Energy Conversion Systems that are more stringent than those found in Commission rules or in the
Commission’s permit standards. In considering a permit application for an LWECS in a county
that has adopted more stringent standards, the Commission must consider and apply the county’s
standards unless the Commission finds good cause not to apply them.
Counties also have the option of assuming permitting authority, under Minn. Stat. § 216F.08, over
LWECS under 25 MW in size. Consistent with the Legislature’s directive, the Commission has
established general permit standards to be applied to permits issued by counties under this
provision. 5
Although the County has not assumed permitting authority for LWECS under Minn. Stat. §
216F.08, the County’s ordinance states that “any standards more stringent than those of the MPUC
are to be considered and applied to LWECS” under Minn. Stat. § 216F.081. The ordinance then
enumerates various standards to be applied to each project, including setbacks from properties,
residences, and wetlands, as well as requirements for stray voltage testing.
B.
The Applicant
AWA Goodhue argued that the County’s standards do not apply to LWECS because the County
has not assumed permitting responsibility for LWECS under Minn. Stat. § 216F.08. The Applicant
argued that a county may adopt more stringent standards for LWECS of any size only if it has first
elected to assume permitting authority for LWECS under 25 MW in size. Because the standards do
not apply to the Project, the Applicant argued that the Commission is not required to determine
whether there is good cause not to apply the County’s standards.
The Applicant also argued, however, that if the Commission determines that the ordinance does
apply to LWECS, that there is good cause not to apply the standards to the Project.
5
See the Commission’s January 11, 2008 Order Establishing General Wind Permit Standards, in Docket
E,G-999/M-07-1102.
4
C.
The County and the Intervenors
The County and the Intervenors 6 argued that a county’s decision not to assume permitting
authority over LWECS does not preclude a county from establishing more stringent standards,
which the Commission must apply when considering a permit application for an LWECS. They
argued that the statute stands on its own and does not contain the requirement that a county assume
permitting authority over LWECS under 25 MW in size as a condition of adopting standards that
are more stringent than the Commission’s standards. They argued that the ordinance adopted
under Minn. Stat. § 216F.081 expressly states that more stringent standards apply to LWECS
within the County and that therefore the ordinance standards apply to this Project.
D.
Recommendation of the ALJ
The ALJ, in Findings 40-46, concluded that the statute is inapplicable to the Project in this case
because the County did not assume permitting authority for projects under 25 MW in size. 7 The
ALJ reasoned that the two provisions – Minn. Stat. §§ 216F.08 and 216F.081 – are conflicting,
requiring that the second provision be given a meaning other than its plain meaning.
According to the ALJ’s analysis, the two provisions, when construed together consistently, require
a county to first assume permitting authority over LWECS under 25 MW in size. Then, a county
can adopt more stringent standards, which the Commission must consider and apply to other,
larger projects within the county, unless it finds good cause not to apply them.
E.
Commission Analysis and Action
The Commission respectfully disagrees with the ALJ that there are conflicting statutory
provisions, which render Minn. Stat. § 216F.081 inapplicable to the AWA project. 8 Rather, the
Commission finds that the statute is clear and unambiguous and not inconsistent with any other
provisions.
The statute does not require a county to assume permitting authority over LWECS under 25 MW
in size, or take any other action, as a condition of adopting more stringent standards, which the
Commission must apply unless it finds good cause not to do so. Allowing a county to adopt more
stringent standards only if the county has first assumed permitting authority for LWECS under
Minn. Stat. § 216F.08, establishes a condition not articulated by the Legislature. Further, the
statute does not contain any language that, on its own, cannot be clearly construed. Arguments to
the contrary simply disregard the statute’s plain meaning.
Furthermore, there is no inextricable link between the two provisions the ALJ identified as
conflicting. Each provision provides distinct and separate authority. Authorizing a county to
assume permitting authority does not conflict with the subsequent provision authorizing a county
to adopt
6
The Intervenors include Belle Creek Township, Goodhue Wind Truth, and the Coalition for Sensible
Siting.
7
See ALJ’s Report, Finding 45.
8
The ALJ’s findings on this issue are contained in Findings 40-46 of the ALJ’s Report.
5
more stringent standards for LWECS. For all these reasons, the Commission finds that the
County’s standards apply unless there is a finding of good cause not to apply them.
V.
The Good Cause Standard
As stated above, Minn. Stat. § 216F.081 requires that the Commission apply a county’s more
stringent standards to an LWECS, unless the Commission finds good cause not to do so.
A.
The Applicant
According to AWA Goodhue, finding good cause means having legally sufficient reasons. The
Applicant argued that the record demonstrates that there are legally sufficient reasons not to apply
the County’s standards, including scientific information showing that concerns over health and
safety do not justify using such restrictive standards. In addition, the Applicant argued that
applying the County’s standards would eliminate the possibility of siting this Project within the
boundary footprint.
B.
The County and the Intervenors
The County, along with the Intervenors, argued that requiring the Commission to find good cause
not to apply the County’s standards presumes that the ordinance standards are applicable. They
argued that the Applicant was required to demonstrate, by clear and convincing evidence, that the
County’s ordinance requirements are arbitrary and capricious, that the Applicant failed to meet
this burden, and as a result, there is no good cause not to apply the County’s ordinance standards.
They further argued that the Commission has no standards for projects over 25 MW in size and
therefore the County’s standards must be used because there are no Commission standards to fall
back on.
C.
The ALJ
According to the ALJ, the common meaning of good cause is a legally sufficient reason, and
determining whether good cause exists is a mixed question of fact (what the record shows) and law
(whether the showing is sufficient). She used this analysis in evaluating each of the ordinance
standards. 9
She also rejected the claim that the Commission must apply the County’s standards because the
Commission lacks its own standards. She concluded that the fact that the Commission complied
with the legislative directive 10 to provide guidance to counties in its Order Establishing General
Wind Permit Standards, 11 does not mean that the Commission’s existing standards, established in
other dockets, became inapplicable to LWECS of 25 MW or more.
9
See Finding 47 of the ALJ’s Report.
10
In 2007, the legislature directed the Commission, by order, to establish general permit standards for
LWECS less than 25 MW that are sited under Minn. Stat. § 216F.08.
11
See the Commission’s January 11, 2008 Order Establishing General Wind Permit Standards, in Docket
E,G-999/M-07-1102
6
D.
Commission Analysis and Action
The Commission concurs with the ALJ that good cause is a mixed question of fact and law and that
it is necessary to rely on the record to determine whether there are sufficient reasons, in this case,
not to apply the ordinance standards.
The Commission rejects the claim that it must apply the County’s standards because it lacks
standards of its own. The Commission’s rules governing LWECS are found at Minn. Rules,
Chapter 7854 and set forth the permitting process, project requirements, and the overarching goal
of “siting LWECS in an orderly manner compatible with environmental preservation, sustainable
development, and the efficient use of resources,” as required under Minn. Stat§ 216F.03.
Further, by formalizing general wind permit standards for LWECS under 25 MW, the Commission
did not alter or limit its authority to apply its existing standards to projects 25 MW or larger. That
authority is ongoing, and maintaining the Commission’s flexibility to evaluate issues that are
fact-intensive ensures a careful, thorough, and close examination of each project. It appears that
the Legislature, too, has recognized the need for project-responsive standards by authorizing use of
standards that are specific to project size and by enabling counties to establish more stringent
standards, which the Commission must apply unless it finds good cause not to do so.
VI.
Ordinance Standards
There is no dispute among the parties that setbacks from locations such as residences, neighboring
properties, and roads are necessary to protect the health and safety of residents and the
environment. At issue is whether applying the County’s standards to this Project is necessary and
whether less stringent standards are sufficient to effectively address the concerns raised. The
County standards applicable to this Project are discussed below.
A.
Setbacks from Property Lines
The County ordinance governs setbacks for property lines of non-participating property owners 12
based on the prevailing and non-prevailing wind directions. The standard requires turbines to be
located a distance of 3 rotor diameters (RD) in the direction of the non-prevailing wind and 5 RD
in the direction of the prevailing wind, to be measured horizontally from the tower base. Prevailing
wind is the azimuth 13 between 290 degrees to 30 degrees and between 130 degrees and 230
degrees. Non-prevailing wind is the azimuth between 30 degrees and 130 degrees and between 230
and 290 degrees.
The Commission’s general wind permit standards contain a wind access buffer setback from all
boundaries of a developer’s site control area of 3 RD on the secondary wind axis and 5 RD on the
predominant axis. 14
12
Non-participating property owners are those property owners who do not have turbines on their property.
13
The ordinance defines azimuth as a horizontal angle measured clockwise in degrees with 00° 00’
00” being the north reference point.
14
See the Commission’s January 11, 2008 Order Establishing General Wind Permit Standards, in Docket
E,G-999/M-07-1102, which maintain .
7
1.
The Applicant
AWA Goodhue argued that the County’s property line setback creates an unreasonably wide arc
for prevailing winds not supported by evidence, such as meteorological data of actual wind
conditions in Goodhue County. The Applicant argued that applying the County’s standards would
ultimately preclude placement of 35 of the 50 turbines.
To determine the prevailing wind in Goodhue County, AWA Goodhue used wind data collected
from its onsite meteorological tower and found that the prevailing wind is West/Northwest along a
directional line of 300 degrees. The Applicant argued that applying the County’s standard is not
necessary to protect the wind access rights of non-participating property owners and that the
Commission’s wind access buffer setback is effective in protecting those rights.
2.
The County and the Intervenors
Along with the County, the Intervenors supported using the County’s property line setback.
According to the County, the standard established for property lines was based on a similar
ordinance provision adopted in Nicollet County and designed to protect the wind access rights of
non-participating property owners. The County and the Intervenors disputed the Applicant’s
assertion that the property line setback is unreasonable and argued that there was no factual
evidence in the record to support that assertion.
3.
The ALJ
The ALJ evaluated the County’s property line setback, which uses a broadly defined proxy of two
100 degree arcs for determining the prevailing wind. She found this standard to be less precise than
using actual wind data, which the Applicant relied on to incorporate a wind access buffer setback
consistent with the Commission’s general wind permit standards. 15
The ALJ found that use of the County’s proxy is not necessary to protect the wind access rights of
non-participating property owners and significantly reduces the availability of land for this
Project. As a result, she concluded that there is good cause not to apply the County’s property line
setback standard to this Project.
4.
Commission Analysis and Action
The Commission concurs with the ALJ that use of the County’s property line setback is not
necessary to protect the rights of non-participating landowners and finds good cause not to apply
this standard. Using actual wind data more effectively protects the wind access rights of
non-participating property owners and minimizes the effects of wind turbine-induced turbulence
downwind. The Commission will therefore require the Applicant to apply its proposed wind
access buffer setback, consistent with the Commission’s general permit standards.
B.
Setback from Neighboring Dwellings – the 10 RD Standard
The County ordinance requires a minimum setback of 750 feet from participating dwellings. For
non-participating dwellings, the setback is 10 RD, unless the owner agrees to a lesser setback,
15
See Finding 54 of the ALJ’s Report.
8
waiving the 10 RD standard. Although the 10 RD setback varies with the size of the turbine, in this
case it equals approximately 2,707 feet, over one-half mile.
The Pollution Control Agency’s noise standards are contained in Minn. Rules, Chapter 7030.
Minn. Rule, part 7840.0040 limits nighttime noise at the L50 sound level to 50 dB (A). 16
The Commission’s general wind permit standards require a setback of at least 500 feet from all
homes, and any additional distance necessary to meet the PCA noise standards. 17 Typically, the
Commission requires between 750 and 1,500 feet from homes, depending on turbine model,
layout, and site specific conditions.
1.
The Applicant
AWA Goodhue argued that the 10 RD setback is both unnecessary and excessive in this case and
would almost certainly preclude the Project due to the amount of land in the Project area that
would be restricted if the standard were applied.
The Applicant argued that the record demonstrates that the County’s standard is unnecessary to
avert adverse effects of noise and shadow flicker and that there are no sufficiently rigorous
scientific studies credibly demonstrating that wind turbines cause adverse health effects, either
from noise or shadow flicker. The Applicant further argued that its proposed setback of 1,500 feet
from neighboring dwellings will reasonably minimize noise and shadow flicker concerns and that
no other factors in the record support applying the County’s more stringent standard of 10 RD.
The Applicant conducted both a noise study and a shadow flicker study as part of its evaluation of
the potential effects from the Project on area residents. 18 According to the Applicant, the results of
the studies provide support for using the Applicant’s proposed setback of 1,500 feet from
neighboring dwellings.
The noise study showed that at a distance of 1,500 feet, the maximum L50 sound level produced
by wind turbines within the AWA Goodhue Project is 43 dB (A) at the nearest receptor. At that
level, the sound produced is 7 dB (A) below the most stringent applicable state noise standard of
50 dB (A). The state noise standard is met even when a 5 dB buffer 19 - as supported by the report
of the Minnesota Department of Health 20 - is added to account for low-frequency noise.
16
Under Minn. Rules, part 7030.0020, L50 means the sound level, expressed in dB(A), exceeded
50 percent of the time for a one hour survey. Under the same rule, dB (A) means A-weighted decibels; and
A-weighted means a specific weighting of the sound pressure level for the purpose of determining the
human response to sound.
17
See the Commission’s January 11, 2008 Order Establishing General Wind Permit Standards, in Docket
E,G-999/M-07-1102.
18
Both studies were conducted by HDR, Inc. on behalf of AWA Goodhue.
19
In this instance, a buffer is an additive applied to the existing noise level to account for low-frequency
noise.
20
On May 22, 2009, the Department of Health issued a report, Public Health Impacts of Wind Turbines, as
requested by the Department of Commerce
9
Furthermore, the Applicant argued that under Minn. Stat. § 116.07, subd. 2, the County is
prohibited from establishing more stringent noise standards than those of the PCA.
The shadow flicker study used a scenario in which turbines were running 100 percent of the time.
The conclusions of that study showed that no residence is expected to experience shadow flicker
for more than one percent of the total annual daylight hours; over 96 percent of homes are expected
to experience less than 20 hours of cumulative flicker per year, and a majority will experience less
than 10 hours per year.
The Applicant argued that there are no other factors unique to Goodhue County that require far
greater setbacks than those applied to other wind farms, most of which are located in agricultural
zones, rural in character, and with similar population densities.
2.
The County and the Intervenors
The County argued that the 10 RD setback is not simply a noise or shadow flicker standard but is
aimed at more effectively protecting the quality of life of County residents. The County stated that
limited staffing and financial resources made it difficult to conduct scientific studies and that the
adverse effects on residents from wind turbines are difficult to ascertain, making it more
reasonable to implement a 10 RD distance to more effectively limit possible adverse effects.
The County also disputed that the PCA noise standards provide sufficient protection, claiming that
those standards are dated and are not based on current and more reliable scientific information.
The County stated that the Minnesota Department of Health’s report supports this conclusion by
stating that the PCA standards appear to underweight the penetration of low frequency noise into
dwellings.
The County and the Intervenors also argued that wind turbine noise is distinctively annoying,
leading to adverse health effects. They argued that computer modeling estimates understate the
impact of turbines on the community and that the Minnesota Department of Health’s report
recognizes that significant health and safety concerns exist as a result of wind turbines.
Furthermore, they argued that AWA Goodhue has not made any attempts to increase landowner
participation or to obtain waivers from the 10 RD setback. They also argued that the Applicant did
not provide an analysis of the amount of land that would be needed to accommodate the Project
under the County’s ordinance.
And finally, they argued that the Applicant has failed to demonstrate by clear and convincing
evidence that the ordinance standards are arbitrary and capricious, and therefore there is no good
cause not to apply the County standards.
3.
Wind on the Wires
At the Commission meeting, Wind on the Wires 21 (WOW) commented on the 10 RD standard,
stating that there is good cause not to apply the standard. The organization expressed concern that
21
Wind on the Wires is a collaborative organization whose aim is to overcome barriers to bringing wind
energy to market.
10
applying the standard would send a broad signal to the wind industry discouraging wind
development.
WOW encouraged the Commission to look at the statewide impact of applying such stringent
standards on achieving the state’s renewable energy requirements and argued that testing the
renewable energy requirements against any one particular project would hamstring wind
development. Furthermore, WOW also argued that applying new and unexpected standards to this
Project at this late point in the process would create uncertainty for future wind development.
4.
Energy Facilities Permitting Unit
The Energy Facilities Permitting Unit (EFP), as part of its examination of the Project proposal,
assessed both the Applicant’s noise and shadow flicker studies. The EFP stated that the noise
study, which was conducted in July 2010, was updated in January 2011 and that the update
confirmed the results of the July study.
The EFP, in its comments, stated that the Cadna-A wind turbine noise model, used to conduct the
noise study, is based on internationally accepted acoustical standards used to calculate outdoor
noise and has been used to model a variety of wind projects throughout the world and in
Minnesota. The study results showed that noise levels were modeled at 493 receptors within and
near the site.
The maximum noise level from all wind turbines operating simultaneously at their highest rated
operating speed was 43 dB (A) at the nearest noise-sensitive receptor. This level is below the level
permitted under the PCA’s nighttime L50 noise limit of 50 dB (A). And with a 5 dB buffer added
as a surrogate for low-frequency noise, the turbine noise level is still 2 dB below the PCA noise
limit. Further, the draft site permit requires a subsequent noise monitoring to be conducted after
completion of the Project.
The shadow flicker study was conducted using 289 potential receptors within the project vicinity,
and assumed that all turbines were operating 100 percent of the time and that there were no
obstructions to the receptor offsetting the shadow flicker. The results showed that more than 96
percent of the 289 receptors will experience fewer than 20 hours of shadow flicker per year. The
EFP concluded that the Applicant’s proposed setback of 1,500 feet would effectively protect
against noise and shadow flicker concerns.
5.
The ALJ
In analyzing the County’s 10 RD standard, the ALJ looked at numerous factors, including the
County’s reasoning for establishing the standard, the state’s noise standards, the noise and shadow
flicker studies conducted by the Applicant, the potential health and safety effects of the Project, the
Applicant’s efforts to comply with the 10 RD standard, and the effects on the Project if the
standard were applied.
11
a.
Noise and Shadow Flicker
The ALJ found the Applicant’s noise study reliable and concluded that the results confirm that the
Project will meet the state’s noise standards. 22 The maximum noise level was 43 dB (A),
compared to the PCA’s noise limit of 50 dB (A). The study also showed that the existing ambient
sound conditions in the Project area are between 33 to 52 dB (A) for hourly median noise and are
higher than the average and median noise levels calculated for the turbines of 31 and 32 dB (A)
respectively.
She also accepted the shadow flicker study results, which show that 96 percent of homes are
expected to experience less than 20 hours of shadow flicker per year; 85 percent are expected to
experience less than ten hours per year; and of the 11 homes expected to experience more than 20
hours per year, five are participants and six are non-participants. 23 The maximum number of hours
per year expected at the six non-participating homes is 33 hours, 11 minutes, and the maximum for
a participating home is 39 hours, 21 minutes. 24 The maximum exposure for both participants and
non-participants is less than one percent of the available daylight hours per year. 25 The Nicollet
County ordinance used as a model by Goodhue County limits shadow flicker to 30 hours per
year. 26
Furthermore, the draft site permit recommended by the EFP requires the Applicant to provide
additional data on shadow flicker on both participating and non-participating landowners prior to a
pre-construction meeting. And although the Applicant must provide documentation on its efforts
to minimize shadow flicker, the ALJ recommended that the site permit include a mitigation plan
by the Applicant on how to further alleviate shadow flicker concerns raised by those affected; the
Applicant concurred with this recommendation.
b.
Health Reports
Recognizing that the state noise standards are the law, the ALJ also relied on reports from the
Department of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) as sources of relevant scientific
information regarding the health effects of wind farms. These reports address issues primarily
related to noise, including low-frequency noise.
The ALJ found that the state’s noise standards are consistent with the interim target nighttime
noise levels set by the WHO in 2009 for European Union countries. 27 In addition, the Department
of Health report recommended using the cumulative impact of all wind turbines to measure noise
and stated that human sensitivity to sound is variable and that low-frequency noise may be less
22
See Finding 73 of the ALJ’s Report.
23
See Finding 78 of the ALJ’s Report.
24
Id.
25
Id.
26
See Finding 80 of the ALJ’s Report.
27
See Finding 90 of the ALJ’s Report.
12
tolerable. 28 The report provided examples of mitigation measures, such as adding a buffer, to
offset low-frequency noise concerns.
The ALJ concluded that the Applicant’s proposed setback of 1,500 feet from the dwellings of
non-participating landowners not only complies with the state’s noise standards, but that the noise
study followed the recommendation of the Department of Health to include the cumulative impact
of all wind turbines. Furthermore, the noise modeling results meet state standards, even if a 5 dB
buffer were added to account for low-frequency noise. And although the County established its 10
RD to better protect the quality of life of its residents, the ALJ concluded that the County’s
regulation is primarily aimed at noise and shadow flicker concerns, which are not significant issues
under a 1,500 setback.
c.
Other Considerations
The ALJ also considered the Applicant’s information regarding whether the Applicant could
comply with the 10 RD setback by using fewer, larger turbines. Because the setback is based on
rotor diameters, however, using larger turbines would further increase the setback distance. 29 She
also concluded that using smaller turbines would reduce the Project from 50 MW to 36 MW. 30
Further, she found that the Applicant’s analysis showed that expanding the Project area would
require so much additional land (approximately 7 times more than the current acreage obtained),
that the Project would become cost-prohibitive. 31
For all these reasons, she concluded that there is good cause not to apply the 10 RD standard to this
Project.
6.
Commission Analysis and Action
The Applicant’s noise study included the cumulative impact of all turbines, consistent with a
recommendation made by the Department of Health in its report on wind turbines. The Applicant
also applied a low-frequency noise buffer, consistent with an example provided in that same
report. The noise study showed that the maximum noise level was less than the maximum allowed
under the PCA’s standards, even with the buffer added to account for low-frequency noise.
In addition, the Applicant’s shadow flicker study showed that 96 percent of homes will experience
less than 20 hours of shadow flicker per year, and importantly, the maximum number of hours per
year for a non-participant is 33 hours. The results of these studies demonstrate that there is no
reasonable likelihood of adverse health impacts from this Project.
The County has stated that the 10 RD standard is not aimed simply at shadow flicker and noise but
is intended to better protect the quality of life of its residents. Further, the County stated that its
limited resources would prevent it from effectively enforcing a standard based on noise limits or
28
See Finding 87 of the ALJ’s Report.
29
See Finding 83 of the ALJ’s Report.
30
Id.
31
Id.
13
duration of exposure to shadow flicker. The County therefore set a limit to essentially avoid the
possibility of any exposure.
A de facto “no exposure” standard is not necessary to protect the health, safety, and quality of life
of Goodhue County residents. Further, a “no exposure” standard could severely hinder the
implementation of state renewable energy policies, which depend in part upon carefully sited wind
farms to achieve their goals. There is therefore good cause not to apply a “no exposure” standard to
applications for LWECS site permits.
At the same time, however, the Legislature clearly envisioned county governments playing a
meaningful role in the orderly siting of LWECS, consistent with environmental preservation,
sustainable development, and the efficient use of resources. Meaningful local input in siting
LWECS requires close collaboration between wind developers and host communities, and it is not
clear in this case that all opportunities for that collaboration have been fully explored.
For example, the record shows that the Applicant has not made any additional attempts to gain
participation from landowners – or to obtain waivers of the 10 RD setback from non-participating
landowners – since the ordinance was passed. Instead, the Applicant took the position that full
compliance was impracticable and that there was no need for further engagement with landowners
and community leaders.
At the Commission meeting, however, the Applicant conceded that in some cases a waiver of only
100-200 feet would have met ordinance requirements and satisfied County concerns. Further,
while the Applicant did not submit detailed schemata showing alternative wind turbine locations –
focusing instead on the difficulties of maintaining 10-RD setbacks throughout the Project footprint
– the record strongly suggests that setbacks exceeding the 1,500 feet proposed by the Applicant
may be widely achievable.
Under these circumstances, it is reasonable to require serious efforts to accommodate the County’s
concerns. The Commission will therefore require the Applicant to make a good-faith effort to meet
the 10-RD standard – by increasing landowner participation, by obtaining waivers from
non-participating landowners, by reexamining site configurations, and by any other means further
study may suggest. The Commission will also require that no turbines be sited closer than 6 RD
from any non-participating residence without further Commission review. 32
And finally, the Commission will require the Applicant to take steps to mitigate shadow flicker,
including, for example, use of timed-suspension of the turbines, shades for windows, and trees as
buffers.
C.
Setbacks from Wetlands
The Ordinance requires turbines to be placed either 1,000 feet from wetlands or at a distance of 3
RD based on the non-prevailing wind and 5 RD based on the prevailing wind.
32
The 6 RD standard in this case is the equivalent to 1,626 feet.
14
The Commission’s general wind permit standards prohibit wind turbines from being placed in
wetlands but do not contain a setback for turbines from wetlands. 33
1.
The Applicant
The Applicant stated that it had taken all measures of precaution to adhere to local, state, and
federal regulations regarding wetlands and to minimize the Project’s effects on wetlands. The
Applicant has worked in consultation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Minnesota
Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, and
the Goodhue County Soil and Water Conservation District.
The Applicant argued that the County’s Ordinance does not define a wetland and requires either a
1,000 foot setback or a 3 RD non-prevailing and 5 RD prevailing distance, without stating when
either applies. Further, the Applicant argued that establishing an RD distance setback to an
irregularly shaped wetland boundary is impractical. And finally, the Applicant argued that
establishing a wetland setback pushes turbines into other land areas that are likely to be greater
habitat or environmental quality areas, potentially causing more impact to plants and wildlife.
2.
The County and the Intervenors
The County and the Intervenors argued that it is necessary to apply the County’s wetland setback
particularly because there is no Commission setback requirement for wetlands. Furthermore, they
argued that the DNR had previously recommended a turbine setback from wetlands of 1,000 feet.
The County and the Intervenors urged the Commission to apply the County standard.
3.
The ALJ
The ALJ determined that the County’s Ordinance was problematic because it did not define the
term wetland or clarify whether the 1,000 foot setback or the 3 RD and 5 RD distance setback
would apply. 34
She also found that the Applicant’s efforts to work with regulatory agencies in addition to the
Commission, including the DNR, the St. Paul District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the
Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, and the Goodhue County Soil and Water
Conservation District, were useful in identifying and addressing possible impacts to wetlands in
the Project area. Furthermore, the draft site permit requires the Applicant to provide a desktop and
field inventory of potentially impacted native prairies, wetlands, and any other biologically
sensitive areas within the site and to submit the results to the Commission and the DNR.
Analysis of the wetland impact was provided through meetings between the Applicant and these
agencies and showed that within the Project area there are 45 wetlands that would potentially incur
impacts due to access roads. Based on the most current projections of the Project, the ALJ
concluded that 0.225 acres of wetlands would be permanently impacted by access roads and
subject to replacement through a wetland bank credit.
33
See the Commission’s January 11, 2008 Order Establishing General Wind Permit Standards, in Docket
E,G-999/M-07-1102
34
See ALJ Finding 130.
15
The ALJ concluded that the Applicant’s work with these agencies has resulted in an individualized
and valuable analysis of the impacts on the specific quantity, quality, and biological diversity of
wetlands in the Project area. She concluded that for these reasons, there is good cause not to apply
the County standard to this Project. 35
4.
The Department of Natural Resources
The DNR filed two exceptions to the ALJ findings regarding wetlands but did not recommend a
specific setback or use of the County standard. The DNR did encourage continued evaluation of
the effects of turbines on wetlands and incorporating information gained from this and other
projects in future project planning.
D.
Commission Analysis and Action
The Commission concurs with the ALJ that there is good cause not to apply the wetland setback to
this Project. The Applicant’s adherence to the input of the various agencies involved in the
regulation and protection of wetlands has demonstrated that the Applicant is effectively putting
into place protections that accurately reflect and address the concerns raised by placing turbines
near wetlands. The agencies have incorporated their expertise on how to prevent and minimize
adverse effects on wetlands in the Project area. Furthermore, the draft site permit reiterates the
Applicant’s obligations under regulations of the DNR and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
For these reasons, the Commission finds good cause not to apply the County standard to this
Project.
E.
Stray Voltage
The Ordinance requires two preconstruction stray voltage tests at all registered feedlots within the
proposed project boundary and within a one-mile radius beyond the proposed project boundary.
The Commission’s general wind permit standards do not require stray voltage testing. 36
1.
The Applicant
The Applicant argued that requiring stray voltage testing is unwarranted. Stray voltage, which is
neutral-to-earth voltage that occurs where grounded neutral systems are used to supply electricity
to the farm, is not known to occur from wind farms. Stray voltage is caused by faulty wiring on a
farm or between the farm and the local utility distribution system. The Applicant argued that the
County’s desire to establish a baseline for stray voltage, despite the lack of evidence that wind
farms cause or contribute to stray voltage, does not justify a requirement that the Applicant be
required to test preexisting stray voltage conditions.
35
Id.
36
See the Commission’s January 11, 2008 Order Establishing General Wind Permit Standards, in Docket
E,G-999/M-07-1102
16
2.
The County and the Intervenors
The County acknowledged that stray voltage, which can expose livestock to electrical shock, is not
likely to occur but argued that because there is little evidence to disprove the possibility that stray
voltage could occur if the system is faulty, stray voltage testing is necessary. Testing would result
in collection of data on the subject and produce more understanding of the issue. The County and
the Intervenors argued that establishing a baseline is in the community’s interest.
3.
The EFP
In its comments, the EFP concurred with the Applicant that stray voltage is associated with
distribution lines, not transmission lines. This Project will not have any direct electrical
connection, including grounded circuit conductors, to conductors originating in another system. It
will not connect with the local distribution systems. In addition, it will have its own substation and
transformers and will be connected to the transmission grid through dedicated 69 kV lines.
The EFP is not aware of any reports of stray voltage associated with any other wind farms in the
state. Furthermore, there are no ground currents in the collection system, whether the system is
operating at zero generation or maximum generation. Therefore, the grounding for the wind farm
collection system has no current with which to create stray voltage.
4.
The ALJ
The ALJ found that stray voltage is not associated with transmission lines, the only lines used by
the Project. Because the wind farm has its own substations and transformers, the collection system
functions separately, meaning there is no current in the ground wire to cause stray voltage. There is
no evidence that any wind farm operation has ever caused stray voltage problems. 37 The
Applicant did, however, agree to conduct pre and post construction stray voltage testing for three
to five landowners who are participants in the Project.
The ALJ therefore concluded that there is good cause not to apply the stray voltage testing
requirement to this Project.
5.
Commission Analysis and Action
The Commission concurs with the ALJ that there is good cause not to require the Applicant to
conduct preconstruction stray voltage testing. The County standard would require the Applicant to
conduct testing to establish a baseline that would later be used to assess whether stray voltage has
occurred or increased since construction of the Project. Requiring the Applicant to test for an
adverse effect that does not apparently exist but could occur as a result of the Project appears
premature. Furthermore, there are no reports of stray voltage occurring from other wind farms in
the state. The Commission therefore finds good cause not to apply this standard.
37
See Finding 151 of the ALJ’s Report.
17
VII.
Amendments to Draft Site Permit
A.
Avian and Bat Protection
The Commission has received numerous comments on the wildlife studies conducted by the
Applicant. Many of the comments came from residents of Goodhue County concerned about the
effective protection of birds and bats in and near the Project area, particularly eagles and
loggerhead shrike.
Residents’ concerns arose as a result of survey work completed in 2010 and conducted by
Westwood Professional Services on behalf of the Applicant. The survey identified three bald eagle
nests. Subsequent to that study, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed residents’
observation of additional bald eagle nesting in the area; two new nests were identified. 38
The EFP stated that it has worked with the Applicant to develop a draft site permit consistent with
the guidelines recommended by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and input from the DNR. In
addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has made recommendations for ongoing agency
coordination with the Applicant, the DNR, and the EFP to continue to coordinate ongoing
monitoring during the preparation of the avian and bat protection plan, which must be approved by
the Commission prior to construction. The loggerhead shrike protection plan must also be
approved by the Commission prior to construction.
The continuing work of the agencies, the Applicant, and the EFP to incorporate evolving
information has been instrumental in establishing draft permit conditions that adhere to applicable
federal and state regulations. And while the conditions in the draft site permit are aimed at
protecting species such as the bald eagle, the loggerhead shrike, and the northern long-eared bat,
there are additional steps the Commission will require to further these goals.
Condition 13.1 of the draft site permit will be changed to require the Applicant to submit the
results of the summer, fall, and winter surveys, and any subsequent surveys, to the Commission
within one month of completion of the surveys. The Applicant must also submit the results of the
2011 monitoring by December 15, 2011 and the 2012 monitoring by December 15, 2012. Each
report must include an update on the status of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s potential listing
of the northern long-eared bat.
Further, the Applicant must avoid placement of turbines in areas identified as highly suitable or
very highly suitable loggerhead shrike habitat and submit to the Commission and the DNR a
loggerhead shrike protection plan for Commission approval. And finally, the Applicant, in
condition 6.7 of the draft site permit will be required to prepare an avian and bat protection plan
and submit it to the Commission for approval prior to the preconstruction meeting.
B.
Other Changes to Draft Site Permit
The Commission will make changes to conditions 4.2 and 6.2 of the draft site permit regarding
shadow flicker mitigation and use of a 6 RD setback, consistent with the decisions above. The
second paragraph of condition 4.2 will be amended to require the Applicant to:
38
In a letter to Westwood Professional Services dated June 2, 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
confirmed two new eagles’ nests based on an April 27, 2011 site visit to the Project.
18
make a good faith effort to meet the setback requirements of the Goodhue County
Ordinance by attempting in good faith to negotiate waivers for those affected by the 10 RD
setback but in no event shall wind turbines be located closer than 6 RD from the residences
of non-participating residents without further review by the Commission.
Condition 6.2 of the draft site permit will be amended as follows:
The permittee shall make a good faith effort to mitigate shadow flicker including but not
limited to timed suspension, trees as buffers, and shades. Additionally, at least ten (10)
working days prior to the pre-construction meeting, the Permittee shall provide data on
shadow flicker impacts on each residence of non-participating landowners and
participating landowners. Information shall include the results of modeling used,
assumptions made, and the anticipated duration of shadow flicker for each residence. The
Permittee shall provide documentation on its efforts to avoid, minimize, and mitigate
shadow flicker impacts.
VIII. Changes to EFP Findings and Conclusions
The Commission will also make the following technical corrections and changes to the EFP
Findings and Conclusions.
The Commission will amend EFP Finding 97 as follows (this is a change to the last line on page 19
of the Findings):
Considering these assumptions, the maximum annual expected (cumulative) shadow
flicker hours at any non-participating receptor is 33 hours, 11 minutes.
In addition, the Commission will remove the last two sentences of EFP Finding 100.
The Commission will amend the fourth sentence of EFP Finding 138 as follows:
AWA Goodhue then conducted a Loggerhead Shrike Habitat Survey and Pre-Construction
Spring Migration Survey to observe avian and bat species present within the projected
area.
And the Commission will amend the second sentence of EFP Finding 158 as follows:
By a combination of 1.5 MW and 1.5 1.6 MW turbines in the Project, two fewer turbines
are required, reducing siting needs for turbines and related facilities.
IX.
Modifications to the ALJ’s Report
The Commission will make the following technical corrections and modifications to the ALJ’s
Report, consistent with the decisions contained herein.
The Commission hereby makes the following modification to Finding 10 of the ALJ’s Report:
The Applicant owns has contracted with National Wind, LLC, a development company
headquartered in Minneapolis, to provide development services for the project.
19
The Commission rejects Findings 40-46 of the ALJ’s Report, consistent with, and for the reasons,
contained herein.
The Commission will modify Finding 60 of the ALJ’s Report to read as follows:
The Commission’s general wind permit standards General Wind Permit Standards Order
requires that turbines must be set back at least 500 feet from all homes, plus whatever
additional distance is necessary to meet state noise standards.
The Commission will modify the second sentence of Finding 71 of the ALJ’s Report to read as
follows:
In this case, because multiple turbines could potentially impact a residence, the Applicant
conducted a sound modeling study in June 2010 January 2011 to determine the maximum
sound level from the cumulative effect of all proposed turbines.
The Commission will modify Finding 85 of the ALJ’s Report, consistent with the decisions, and
for the reasons, contained herein to read as follows:
Although the other parties have suggested that the Applicant could re-negotiate its leases
and participation agreements to take advantage of the 750-foot setback allowed for
participants, or could offer to pay more money to nonparticipants in order to obtain more
land rights, the record is clear that application of the 10-RD setback to the project (as it has
been developed to date) will effectively may preclude the entire project. The assertion that
the Applicant may be able to negotiate waivers of this requirement with those who have
declined to participate in the past is speculation that is not founded in any evidence.
X.
Conclusion
With the determinations described above, the Commission finds that the Project is compatible with
environmental preservation, sustainable development, and the efficient use of resources under
Minn. Stat. § 216F.03 and Minn. Rules, part 7854.1000. The Commission also finds that the
Applicant has complied with Minn. Rules, Chapter 7854. A site permit will be issued in the form
attached.
ORDER
1.
The Commission hereby adopts the Report of the Administrative Law Judge with the
following modifications:
a. The first sentence of Finding 10 of the ALJ’s Report is modified to read as follows:
The Applicant owns has contracted with National Wind, LLC, a development company
headquartered in Minneapolis, to provide development services for the project.
b. The Commission hereby rejects Findings 40-46 of the ALJ’s Report.
20
c. Finding 60 of the ALJ’s Report is modified to read as follows:
The Commission’s general wind permit standards General Wind Permit Standards
Order requires that turbines must be set back at least 500 feet from all homes, plus
whatever additional distance is necessary to meet state noise standards.
d. Finding 85 of the ALJ’s Report is modified to read as follows:
Although the other parties have suggested that the Applicant could re-negotiate its
leases and participation agreements to take advantage of the 750-foot setback allowed
for participants, or could offer to pay more money to nonparticipants in order to obtain
more land rights, the record is clear that application of the 10-RD setback to the project
(as it has been developed to date) will effectively may preclude the entire project. The
assertion that the Applicant may be able to negotiate waivers of this requirement with
those who have declined to participate in the past is speculation that is not founded in
any evidence.
2.
The Commission hereby issues the site permit to AWA Goodhue with the following
amendments:
a. The second paragraph of section 4.2 of the draft site permit is deleted and the following
language inserted:
The permittee shall make a good faith effort to meet the setback requirements of the
Goodhue County Ordinance by attempting in good faith to negotiate waivers from
those affected by the 10 RD setback but in no event shall wind turbines be located
closer than 6 RD from the residences of non-participating residents without further
review by the Commission.
b. Section 6.2 of the draft site permit is amended to read as follows:
The permittee shall make a good faith effort to mitigate shadow flicker including but
not limited to timed suspension, tress as buffers, and shades. Additionally, at least ten
(10) working days prior to the pre-construction meeting, the Permittee shall provide
data on shadow flicker impacts on each residence of non-participating landowners and
participating landowners. Information shall include the results of modeling used,
assumptions made, and the anticipated duration of shadow flicker for each residence.
The Permittee shall provide documentation on its efforts to avoid, minimize, and
mitigate shadow flicker impacts.
c. The first sentence of section 6.7 of the draft site permit is amended to read as follows:
The Permittee shall, in consultation with the Commission and DNR, prepare an avian
and bat protection plan and submit it to the Commission for approval at least ten (10)
working days prior to the pre-construction meeting.
d. The following sentence will be added to the end of Section 13.1.1 of the draft site
permit is amended to read as follows:
21
The Permittee shall submit the results of the summer, fall, and winter surveys, and any
subsequent surveys, to the Commission within one month of completion of the surveys.
e. The following sentence will be added to the end of section 13.1.2 of the draft site
permit:
The Permittee shall submit the results of the 2011 monitoring by December 15, 2011
and the 2012 monitoring by December 15, 2012. Each report shall include an update on
the status of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service potential listing of the Northern
long-eared bat.
f. Section 13.1.3 of the draft site permit is amended to read as follows:
The Permittee shall take steps to avoid placement of turbines in areas identified as
highly suitable or very highly suitable loggerhead shrike habitat. Alternate turbine
sites are to be considered the primary avoidance strategy. If alternate sites cannot be
utilized as the primary mitigation strategy, the Permittee shall provide the Commission
and DNR with a Loggerhead Shrike Protection Plan for approval by the Commission
detailing why avoidance is not possible, outlining strategies to minimize effects to
Loggerhead Shrike, and providing mitigation measures for impacts. Permittee shall
conduct two years of post-construction fatality monitoring to evaluate the impacts of
wind turbines sited in loggerhead shrike habitat determined to be highly to very highly
suitable.
3.
The Commission hereby adopts the Findings and Conclusions of the EFP with the
following changes:
a. EFP Finding 97 is amended to read as follows:
Considering these assumptions, the maximum annual expected (cumulative) shadow
flicker hours at any non-participating receptor is 33 hours, 11 minutes.
b. The Commission strikes the last two sentences of EFP Finding 100.
c. The fourth sentence of EFP Finding 138 is amended to read as follows:
AWA Goodhue then conducted a Loggerhead Shrike Habitat Survey and
Pre-Construction Spring Migration Survey to observe avian and bat species present
within the projected area.
d. The second sentence of EFP Finding 158 is amended to read as follows:
By a combination of 1.5 MW and 1.5 1.6 MW turbines in the Project, two fewer
turbines are required, reducing siting needs for turbines and related facilities.
22
4.
This Order shall become effective immediately.
BY ORDER OF THE COMMISSION
Burl W. Haar
Executive Secretary
This document can be made available in alternative formats (i.e., large print or audio tape) by
calling 651.296.0406 (voice). Persons with hearing or speech disabilities may call us through
Minnesota Relay at 1.800.627.3529 or by dialing 711.
23
STATE OF MINNESOTA PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION
SITE PERMIT FOR A
LARGE WIND ENERGY CONVERSION SYSTEM
IN GOODHUE COUNTY
ISSUED TO
AWA GOODHUE, LLC
PUC DOCKET NO. IP-6701/WS-08-1233
In accordance with Minnesota Statutes Section 216F.04, this Site Permit is hereby issued to:
AWA Goodhue, LLC
The Permittee is authorized to construct and operate up to a 78 Megawatt Large Wind Energy
Conversion System on the site identified in this Site Permit and in compliance with the
conditions contained in this Permit.
This Permit shall expire thirty (30) years from the date of this approval.
Approved and adopted this 23rd day of August, 2011
BY ORDER OF THE COMMISSION
____________________
BURL W. HAAR
Executive Secretary
This document can be made available in alternative formats (i.e., large print or audio) by calling 651.296.
0391 (voice). Persons with hearing or speech disabilities may call us through Minnesota Relay at
1.800.627.3529 or by dialing 711.
Table of Contents
1.
Page
PROJECT DESCRIPTION ..............................................................................................1
2.
DESIGNATED SITE .........................................................................................................1
2.1
PROJECT BOUNDARY .........................................................................................1
2.2
TURBINE LAYOUT ...............................................................................................1
3.
APPLICATION COMPLIANCE .....................................................................................2
4.
SETBACKS AND SITE LAYOUT RESTRICTIONS ...................................................2
4.1
WIND ACCESS BUFFER ......................................................................................2
4.2
RESIDENCES .........................................................................................................2
4.3
NOISE ......................................................................................................................3
4.4
ROADS ....................................................................................................................3
4.5
PUBLIC LANDS .....................................................................................................3
4.6
WETLANDS............................................................................................................3
4.7
NATIVE PRAIRIE ..................................................................................................3
4.8
SAND AND GRAVEL OPERATIONS ..................................................................4
4.9
WIND TURBINE TOWERS ...................................................................................4
4.10 TURBINE SPACING ..............................................................................................4
4.11 METEOROLOGICAL TOWERS ...........................................................................4
4.12 AVIATION ..............................................................................................................4
4.13 FOOTPRINT MINIMIZATION ..............................................................................5
4.14 COMMUNICATION CABLES ..............................................................................5
4.15 ELECTRICAL COLLERTOR AND FEEDER LINES ..........................................5
5.
ADMINISTRATIVE COMPLIANCE PROCEDURES ................................................5
5.1
SITE PLAN ..............................................................................................................5
5.2
NOTICE TO GOVERNMENTAL UNITS AND LOCAL RESIDENTS ...............6
5.3
NOTICE OF PERMIT CONDITIONS ....................................................................6
5.4
FIELD REPRESENTATIVE ...................................................................................6
5.5
SITE MANAGER ....................................................................................................7
5.6
PRE-CONSTRUCTION MEETING .......................................................................7
5.7
PRE-OPERATION COMPLIANCE MEETING ....................................................7
5.8
COMPLAINTS ........................................................................................................7
i
6.
SURVEYS AND REPORTING ........................................................................................7
6.1
BIOLOGICAL AND NATURAL RESOURCE INVENTORIES ..........................7
6.2
SHADOW FLICKER ..............................................................................................8
6.3
ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESOURCES.....................................................................8
6.4
INTERFERENCE ....................................................................................................9
6.5
WAKE LOSS STUDIES .........................................................................................9
6.6
NOISE ......................................................................................................................9
6.7
AVIAN AND BAT PROTECTION PLAN .............................................................9
6.8
PROJECT ENERGY PRODUCTION ...................................................................10
6.9
WIND RESOURCE USE ......................................................................................10
6.10 EXTRAORDINARY EVENTS .............................................................................11
7.
CONSTRUCTION AND OPERATION PRACTICES ................................................11
7.1
SITE CLEARANCE ..............................................................................................11
7.2
TOPSOIL PROTECTION .....................................................................................11
7.3
SOIL COMPACTION ...........................................................................................11
7.4
LIVESTOCK PROTECTION ...............................................................................11
7.5
FENCES .................................................................................................................11
7.6
DRAINAGE TILES ...............................................................................................11
7.7
EQUIPMENT STORAGE .....................................................................................12
7.8
ROADS ..................................................................................................................12
7.9
CLEANUP .............................................................................................................12
7.10 TREE REMOVAL .................................................................................................13
7.11 SOIL EROSION AND SEDIMENT CONTROL..................................................13
7.12 RESTORATION ....................................................................................................13
7.13 HAZARDOUS WASTE ........................................................................................13
7.14 APPLICATION OF HERBICIDES .......................................................................13
7.15 PUBLIC SAFETY .................................................................................................14
7.16 EMERGENCY RESPONSE..................................................................................14
7.17 TOWER IDENTIFICATION ................................................................................14
7.18 FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION LIGHTING .................................14
8.
FINAL CONSTRUCTION .............................................................................................14
8.1
AS-BUILT PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS .....................................................14
8.2
FINAL BOUNDARIES .........................................................................................15
8.3
EXPANSION OF SITE BOUNDARIES ..............................................................15
9.
DECOMMISIONING, RESTORATION, AND ABANDONMENT ..........................15
9.1
DECOMMISSIONING PLAN ..............................................................................15
9.2
SITE RESTORATION ..........................................................................................15
9.3
ABANDONDED TURBINES ...............................................................................15
10.
AUTHORITY TO CONSTRUCT LWECS...................................................................16
10.1 WIND RIGHTS .....................................................................................................16
10.2
POWER POURCHASE AGREEMENT ..............................................................16
10.3 FAILURE TO COMMENCE CONSTRUCTION ................................................16
ii
10.4
10.5
PREEMPTION OF OTHER LAWS ......................................................................16
OTHER PERMITS ................................................................................................17
11.
COMMISSION POST-ISSUANCE AUTHORITIES ..................................................17
11.1 PERIODIC REVIEW.............................................................................................17
11.2 MODIFICATION OF CONDITIONS ...................................................................17
11.3 REVOCATION OR SUSPENSION OF PERMIT ................................................18
11.4 MORE STRINGENT RULES ...............................................................................18
11.5 TRANSFER OF PERMIT .....................................................................................18
11.6 RIGHT OF ENTRY ...............................................................................................18
11.7 PROPREITARY INFORMATION .......................................................................19
12.
EXPIRATION DATE ......................................................................................................19
13.
SPECIAL CONDITONS .................................................................................................19
13.1 AVIAN AND BAT PROTECTION PLAN SPECIALPROVISION ....................19
13.2 APPLICATION OF GOODHUE COUNTY STANDARDS ....................................20
ATTACHMENT 1: Site Permit Map ...........................................................................................1
ATTACHMENT 2: Complaint and Handling Procedures for Large Wind
Energy Conversion Systems .................................................................... 1-3
ATTACHMENT 3: Compliance Filing Procedure for Permitted
Energy Facilities ..........................................................................................1
ATTACHMENT 4: Permit Compliance Filings ...................................................................... 1-3
iii
SITE PERMIT
This SITE PERMIT for a Large Wind Energy Conversion System (LWECS) authorizes AWA
Goodhue Wind, LLC (Permittee) to construct and operate the Goodhue Wind Project (Project), a
78 Megawatt (MW) nameplate capacity LWECS and associated facilities in Goodhue County, on
approximately 12,000 acres of land within the 32,684 acre site boundary in accordance with the
conditions contained in this permit.
SECTION 1
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
The up to 78 MW nameplate capacity LWECS authorized to be constructed in this Permit
(Goodhue Wind Project) will be developed and constructed by the Permittee. The Project will
consist of up to 50 General Electric 1.5 MW xle and 1.6 MW xle wind turbine generators
mounted on 262.5 foot (80 meter) towers having a combined nominal nameplate capacity of
approximately 78 MW. The rotor diameter is 271 feet (82.5 meters). The overall height of the
tower, nacelle and blade will be approximately 397 feet (121 meters).
Associated facilities will include a concrete and steel foundation for each tower, pad mounted
step-up transformers for each wind turbine, access roads, an electrical collection and feeder
system, and operations and maintenance building, two project substations, and two permanent
meteorological towers. The project will also include an underground automated supervisory
control and data acquisition system (SCADA) for communication purposes. The energy from the
proposed 78 MW project will be delivered from the project substations to the electrical grid via
two points of interconnection. The northern 39 MW of the Project will interconnect to an
existing 69 kV transmission line adjacent to the existing Vasa Substation approximately three
miles north of the project via a new 69 kV transmission line. The southern 39 MW will
interconnect to an existing 69 kV transmission line near the existing Goodhue Substation.
SECTION 2
DESIGNATED SITE
2.1 PROJECT BOUNDARY
The Project boundary is shown on each of the three (3) maps in Attachment 1. The Goodhue
Wind Project, except for the new 69 kV transmission line, will be located on lands within the
Project boundary on which AWA Goodhue, LLC has lease and easement agreements. The
project boundary encompasses approximately 32,684 acres and includes portions of Belle Creek
(sections 1-5, 8-17, 20-29, 32-36); Goodhue (sections 17-19, 30 and 31); Minneola (sections 1-5,
8-17; Vasa (sections 35 and 36); and Zumbrota (sections 4-6, 7-9, 16-18) Townships.
2.2 TURBINE LAYOUT
The preliminary site layout for the wind turbines and associated facilities are shown in
Attachment 1 (pages 1 - 3). The preliminary site layout represents the approximate location of
wind turbines and associated facilities within the Project boundary and identifies a layout that
minimizes the overall potential human and environmental impacts, which were evaluated in the
1
permitting process. The layout depicting the location of all turbines and associated facilities,
except for the new 69 kV transmission line shall be located within the Project boundary. The
Project boundary serves to provide the Permittee with the flexibility to do minor adjustments to
the preliminary layout to accommodate landowner requests, unforeseen conditions encountered
during the detailed engineering and design process, and federal and state agency requirements.
Any modification of the location of a wind turbine and associated facility depicted in a
preliminary layout shall be done in such manner to have comparable overall human and
environmental impacts and shall be specifically identified in the site plan pursuant to Section 5.1.
The Permittee shall submit the final site layout in the site plan pursuant to Section 5.1.
SECTION 3
APPLICATION COMPLIANCE
The Permittee shall comply with those practices set forth in its revised site permit application,
dated October, 19, 2009, and the record of this proceeding unless this permit establishes a
different requirement in which case this permit shall prevail.
Attachment 4 contains a summary of compliance filing, which is provided solely for the
convenience of the Permittee. If this permit conflicts or is not consistent with Attachment 4, the
conditions in this permit will control.
SECTION 4
SETBACKS AND SITE LAYOUT RESTRICTIONS
4.1 WIND ACCESS BUFFER
Wind turbine towers shall not be placed less than five (5) rotor diameters (RD) on prevailing
wind directions and three (3) RD on non-prevailing wind directions from the perimeter of the
property where the Permittee does not hold the wind rights, without the approval of the
Commission. This section does not apply to public roads and trails.
4.2 RESIDENCES
Wind turbine towers shall not be located closer than 1,000 feet from the nearest participating
residence unless a waiver has been signed by the property owners, or the distance required to
comply with the noise standards pursuant to Minnesota Rule 7030.0040 established by the
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (PCA), whichever is greater.
The permittee shall make a good faith effort to meet the setback requirements of the Goodhue
County Ordinance by attempting in good faith to negotiate waivers from those affected by the 10
RD setback but in no event shall wind turbines be located closer than 6 RD from the residences
of non-participating residents without further review by the Commission.
2
4.3 NOISE
The wind turbines shall be placed such that the Permittee shall comply with noise standards
established as of the date of this permit by the PCA at all times at all appropriate locations. The
noise standards are found in Minnesota Rules Chapter 7030. Turbine operation shall be
modified or turbines shall be removed from service if necessary to comply with these noise
standards. The Permittee or its contractor may install and operate turbines, as close as the
minimum setback required in this permit but in all cases shall comply with PCA noise standards.
The Permittee shall be required to comply with this condition with respect to all homes or other
receptors in place as of the time of turbine construction, but not with respect to such receptors
built after construction of the towers.
4.4 ROADS
Wind turbine and meteorological towers shall not be located closer than 250 feet from the edge
of the nearest public road right-of-way.
4.5 PUBLIC LANDS
Wind turbines and associated facilities including foundations, access roads, underground cable,
and transformers, shall not be located in public lands, including Waterfowl Production Areas,
State Wildlife Management Areas or Scientific and Natural Areas or in county parks, and wind
turbine towers shall also comply with the setbacks of Section 4.1.
4.6 WETLANDS
Wind turbines and associated facilities including foundations, access roads, underground cable
and transformers, shall not be placed in public waters wetlands, as defined in Minnesota Statutes
section 103G.005, subpart 15a. However, electric collector or feeder lines may cross or be
placed in public waters or public waters wetlands subject to permits and approvals by the
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the United States Army Corps of
Engineers (USACE).
4.7 NATIVE PRAIRIE
The Permittee shall, in consultation with the Commission and DNR, prepare a Prairie Protection
and Management Plan and submit it to the “Commission and DNR at least ten (10) working days
prior to the pre-construction meeting if native prairie, as defined in Minnesota Statutes section
84.02, subdivision 5, is identified in any biological and natural resource inventories conducted
pursuant to Section 6.1. The plan shall address steps to avoid impacts to native prairie and
mitigation to unavoidable impacts to native prairie by restoration or management of other native
prairie areas that are in degraded condition, by conveyance of conservation easements, or by
other means agreed to by the Permittee and Commission. Wind turbines and associated facilities
including foundations, access roads, collector and feeder lines, underground cable, and
transformers shall not be impact unless addressed in a Prairie Protection and Management Plan
Construction activities, as defined in Minnesota Statutes section 216E.01, shall not impact native
prairie unless addressed in a Prairie Protection and Management Plan. Wind turbines and
3
associated facilities including foundations, access roads, collector and feeder lines, underground
cable, and transformers shall not be located in areas enrolled in the Native Prairie Bank Program.
4.8 SAND AND GRAVEL OPERATIONS
Wind turbines and all associated facilities, including foundations, access roads, underground
cable, and transformers shall not be located within active sand and gravel operations, unless
otherwise negotiated with the landowner with notice given to the owner of the sand and gravel
operation.
4.9 WIND TURBINE TOWERS
Structures for wind turbines shall be self-supporting tubular towers. The towers may be up to 80
meters (262.5 feet).
4.10 TURBINE SPACING
The turbine towers shall be constructed within the site boundary as shown in Attachment 1. The
turbine towers shall be spaced no closer than three (3) RD on non-prevailing wind directions and
five (5) RD on prevailing wind directions. If required during final micro siting of the turbine
towers to account for topographic conditions, up to 20 percent of the towers may be sited closer
than the above spacing but the Permittee shall minimize the need to site the turbine towers
closer.
4.11 METEOROLOGICAL TOWERS
Permanent towers for meteorological equipment shall be free standing. Permanent
meteorological towers shall not be placed less than 250 feet from the edge of the nearest public
road right-of-way and from the boundary of the Permittee’s site control, or in compliance with
the county ordinance regulating meteorological towers in the county the tower is built, whichever
is more restrictive. Meteorological towers shall be placed on property the Permittee holds the
wind or other development rights.
Meteorological towers shall be marked as required by the Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA). There shall be no lights on the meteorological towers other than what is required by the
FAA. This restriction shall not apply to infrared heating devices used to protect the wind
monitoring equipment.
4.12 AVIATION
The Permittee shall not place wind turbines or associated facilities in a location that could create
an obstruction to navigable airspace of public and private airports (as defined in Minnesota Rule
8800.0100, subparts 24a and 24b) in Minnesota, adjacent states, or provinces. The Permittee
shall apply the minimum obstruction clearance for private airports pursuant to Minnesota Rule
8800.1900, subpart 5. Setbacks or other limitations shall be followed in accordance with the
Minnesota Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Aviation, and the FAA. The
Permitee shall notify owners of all known airports within six (6) miles of the Project prior to
construction.
4
4.13 FOOTPRINT MINIMIZATION
The Permittee shall design and construct the LWECS so as to minimize the amount of land that
is impacted by the LWECS. Associated facilities in the vicinity of turbines such as
electrical/electronic boxes, step-up transformers and monitoring systems shall, to the greatest
extent feasible, be mounted on the foundations used for turbine towers or inside the towers
unless otherwise negotiated with the affected landowner(s).
4.14. COMMUNICATION CABLES
The Permittee shall place all supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) cables
underground and within or immediately adjacent to the land necessary for the collection and
feeder lines and turbine access roads unless otherwise negotiated with the affected landowner(s).
4.15 ELECTRICAL COLLECTOR AND FEEDER LINES
Collector and feeder lines comprise the electrical collection system. In accordance with the
Permittee’s site permit application, collector and feeder lines shall be buried. If feeder lines are
located within public rights-of-way, the Permittee shall obtain approval from the governmental
unit responsible for the affected right-of-way.
Collector and feeder lines shall be located in such a manner to minimize interference with
agricultural operations, including, but not limited to, existing drainage patterns, drain tile, future
tiling plans and ditches. The Permittee shall submit the site plan and engineering drawings of all
collector and feeder lines in the site plan pursuant to Section 5.1.
The Permittee must fulfill, comply with, and satisfy all Institute of Electrical and Electronics
Engineers, Inc. (IEEE) standards applicable to this Project, including but not limited to, IEEE
776 [Recommended Practice for Inductive Coordination of Electric Supply and Communication
Lines], IEEE 519 [Harmonic Specifications], IEEE 367 [Recommended Practice for Determining
the Electric Power Station Ground Potential Rise and Induced Voltage from a Power Fault], and
IEEE 820 [Standard Telephone Loop Performance Characteristics] provided the telephone
service provider(s) have complied with any obligations imposed on it pursuant to these
standards. Upon request by the Commission, the Permittee shall report to the Commission on
compliance with these standards.
SECTION 5
ADMINISTRATIVE COMPLIANCE PROCEDURES
The following administrative compliance procedures shall be executed in accordance with the
Permit Compliance Filings at Attachments 3 and 4
5.1 SITE PLAN
At least ten (10) working days prior to the pre-construction meeting the Permittee shall submit to
the Commission:
5
(a) a site plan for all turbines, roads, electrical equipment, collector and feeder lines and
other associated facilities to be constructed;
(b) engineering drawings for site preparation, construction of the facilities; and
(c) a plan for restoration of the site due to construction.
Construction is defined under Minnesota Statutes section 216E.01. The Permittee may submit a
site plan and engineering drawings for only a portion of the Project if the Permittee is prepared to
commence construction on certain parts of the Project before completing the site plan and
engineering drawings for other parts of the Project. The Permittee shall document (through GIS
mapping) compliance with the setbacks and site layout restrictions required by the permit. In the
event that previously unidentified environmental conditions are discovered during construction
which by law or pursuant to conditions outlined in this Permit would preclude the use of that site
as a turbine site, the Permittee shall have the right to move or relocate the turbine site. The
Permittee shall notify the Commission of any turbines that are to be relocated before the turbine
is constructed on the new site and demonstrate compliance with the setbacks and site layout
restrictions required by this permit.
5.2. NOTICE TO GOVERNMENTAL UNITS AND LOCAL RESIDENTS
Within ten (10) working days of issuance of this Permit, the Permittee shall, send a printed copy
of this Permit to the office of the auditor of each county in which the site is located and to the
clerk of each city and township within the site boundaries. If applicable, the Permittee shall,
within ten (10) working days of permit issuance, send a printed copy of this permit to each
regional development commission, local fire district, soil and water conservation district,
watershed district, and watershed management district office with jurisdiction in the county
where the site is located.
Within thirty (30) days of issuance of this Permit, the Permittee shall send a printed copy of this
permit to each landowner within the site permit boundary. In no case shall the landowner
receive this site permit and complaint procedure, developed pursuant to Section 5.8, less than
five (5) days prior to the start of construction on their property.
5.3 NOTICE OF PERMIT CONDITIONS
Prior to the start of construction, the Permittee shall inform all employees, contractors, and other
persons involved in the construction and ongoing operation of the Project of the terms and
conditions of this permit.
5.4 FIELD REPRESENTATIVE
At least ten (10) working days prior to the pre-construction meeting and continuously throughout
construction, including site restoration, the Permittee shall designate a field representative
responsible for overseeing compliance with the conditions of this permit during the construction
phase of this Project. This person (or a designee) shall be accessible by telephone during normal
working hours. This person’s address, email, phone number and emergency phone number shall
be provided to the Commission, which may make the contact information available to local
6
residents and officials and other interested persons. The Permittee may change the field
representative by notification to the Commission.
5.5 SITE MANAGER
The Permittee shall designate a site manager responsible for overseeing compliance with the
conditions of this permit during the commercial operation and decommissioning phases of this
Project. The Permittee shall provide the Commission with the name, address, email, phone
number, and emergency phone number of the site manager prior to placing any turbine into
commercial operation. This information shall be maintained current by informing the
Commission of any changes, as they become effective.
5.6 PRE-CONSTRUCTION MEETING
Prior to the start of any construction, the Permittee shall conduct a pre-construction meeting with
the Field Representative and the State Permit Manager designated by the Commission to
coordinate field monitoring of construction activities.
5.7 PRE-OPERATIONS COMPLIANCE MEETING
At least ten (10) working days prior to commercial operation, the Permittee shall conduct a preoperation compliance meeting with the Site Manager and the State Permit Manager designated
by the Commission to coordinate field monitoring of operation activities.
5.8 COMPLAINTS
At least ten (10) working days prior to the pre-construction meeting, the Permittee shall submit
to the Commission the company's procedures to be used to receive and respond to complaints.
The Permittee shall report to the Commission all complaints received concerning any part of the
Project in accordance with the procedures provided in Attachments 2 and 3 of this Permit.
SECTION 6
SURVEYS AND STUDIES
6.1 BIOLOGICAL AND NATURAL RESOURCE INVENTORIES
The Permittee, in consultation with the Commission and DNR and Commission, shall design and
conduct pre-construction desktop and field inventories to identify potentially impacted native
prairies, wetlands, and any other biologically sensitive areas within the site and assess the
presence of state threatened, endangered, or species of special concern of federally listed species.
The results of any surveys shall be submitted to the Commission and DNR at least ten (10)
working days prior to the pre-construction meeting to confirm compliance of conditions in this
permit.
The Permittee shall provide to the Commission any biological surveys or studies conducted on
this Project, including those not required under this permit. Section 11.7 may apply to data
provided pursuant to the section.
7
6.2 SHADOW FLICKER
The permittee shall make a good faith effort to mitigate shadow flicker including but not limited
to timed suspension, trees as buffers, and shades. Additionally, at least ten (10) working days
prior to the pre-construction meeting, the Permittee shall provide data on shadow flicker impacts
on each residence of non-participating landowners and participating landowners. Information
shall include the results of modeling used, assumptions made, and the anticipated duration of
shadow flicker for each residence. The Permittee shall provide documentation on its efforts to
avoid, minimize, and mitigate shadow flicker impacts.
6.3 ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESOURCES
The Permittee shall work with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the State
Archaeologist. The Permittee shall file a Phase 1 or 1A Archaeology survey for all proposed
turbine locations, access roads, junction boxes and other areas of Project construction impact to
determine whether additional archaeological work is necessary for any part of the proposed
Project. The Permittee will contract with a qualified archaeologist to complete such surveys, and
shall submit the results to the Commission, the SHPO and the State Archaeologist at least ten
(10) working days prior to the pre-construction meeting.
The SHPO and the State Archaeologist will make recommendations for the treatment of any
significant archaeological sites which are identified. Any issues in the implementation of these
recommendations will be resolved by the Commission in consultation with SHPO and the State
Archaeologist. The Permittee shall not excavate at such locations until so authorized by the
Commission in consultation with the SHPO and State Archaeologist.
If human remains are encountered during construction, the Permittee shall immediately halt
construction at that location and promptly notify local law enforcement authorities and the State
Archaeologist. Construction at the human remains location shall not proceed until authorized by
local law enforcement authorities or the State Archaeologist.
If any federal funding, permit or license is involved or required, the Permittee shall notify the
SHPO as soon as possible in the planning process to coordinate section 106 (36 C.F.R. 800)
review.
Prior to construction, construction workers shall be trained about the need to avoid cultural
properties, how to identify cultural properties, and procedures to follow if undocumented cultural
properties, including gravesites, are found during construction.
If any archaeological sites are found during construction, the Permittee shall immediately stop
work at the site and shall mark and preserve the site and notify the Commission and the SHPO
about the discovery. The Commission and the SHPO shall have three (3) working days from the
time the agency is notified to conduct an inspection of the site if either agency shall choose to do
so. On the fourth day after notification, the Permittee may begin work on the site unless the
SHPO has directed that work shall cease. In such event, work shall not continue until the SHPO
determines that construction can proceed.
8
6.4 INTERFERENCE
At least ten (10) working days prior to the pre-construction meeting, the Permittee shall submit
to the Commission the results of an assessment of television and radio signal reception,
microwave signal patterns, and telecommunications in the Project area. The assessment shall be
designed to provide data that can be used in the future to determine whether the turbines and
associated facilities are the cause of disruption or interference of television reception or radio,
microwave patterns, or telecommunications in the event residents should complain about such
disruption or interference after the turbines are installed or placed in operation. The Permittee
shall be responsible for alleviating any disruption or interference of these services caused by the
turbines or any associated facilities.
The Permittee shall not operate the Project so as to cause microwave, television, radio,
telecommunications, or navigation interference in violation of Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) regulations or other law. In the event the Project or its operations cause such
interference, the Permittee shall take timely measures necessary to correct the problem.
6.5 WAKE LOSS STUDIES
At least ten (10) working days prior to the pre-construction meeting, the Permittee shall provide
the Commission with a preconstruction micro-siting analysis leading to the final tower locations
and an estimate of total Project wake losses. The Permittee shall provide to the Commission any
operational wake loss studies conducted on this Project.
6.6 NOISE
The Permittee shall submit a proposal to the Commission at least ten (10) working days prior to
the pre-operation compliance meeting for the conduct of a post-construction noise study. Upon
the approval of the Commission, the Permittee shall carry out the study. The study shall be
designed to determine the LWECS noise levels at different frequencies and at various distances
from the turbines at various wind directions and speeds. The Permittee shall submit the study
within eighteen (18) months after commercial operation.
6.7 AVIAN AND BAT PROTECTION PLAN
The Permittee shall, in consultation with the Commission and DNR, prepare an avian and bat
protection plan and submit it to the Commission for approval prior to the pre-construction
meeting. The plan shall address how results of pre-construction avian surveys informed micrositing and steps to be taken to identify, avoid, minimize and mitigate impacts to avian and bat
species during the construction and operation phases of the Project. The plan shall also address
formal and informal monitoring, training, wildlife handling, documentation (e.g., photographs),
and reporting protocols for each phase of the Project, and shall include specific eagle, bat and
Loggerhead Shrike provisions and reporting as provided in Section 13.
The Permittee shall submit quarterly avian and bat fatality reports to the Commission. Quarterly
reports are due by the 15th of each January, April, July, and October following commercial
operation and terminating upon the expiration of this permit. Each report shall identify any dead
or injured avian or bat species, location of find by turbine number and date of the find for the
9
reporting period in accordance with the reporting protocols. If a dead or injured avian or bat
species is found, the report shall describe the potential cause of the occurrence and the steps
taken to avoid future occurrences.
The Permittee shall notify the Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and DNR within
twenty-four (24) hours of the discovery of any of the following:
(a)
five or more dead or injured non-protected avian or bat species within a reporting
period;
(b)
one or more dead or injured migratory avian or bat species;
(c)
one or more dead or injured state threatened, endangered, or species of special concern;
or
(d)
one or more dead or injured federally listed species.
6.8 PROJECT ENERGY PRODUCTION
The Permittee shall submit a report no later than February 1st following each complete year of
project operation. The report shall include:
(a) The rated nameplate capacity of the permitted Project;
(b) The total monthly energy generated by the Project in MW Hours;
(c) The monthly capacity factor of the Project;
(d) Yearly energy production and capacity factor for the Project;
(e) The operational status of the Project and any major outages, major repairs, or turbine
performance improvements occurring in the previous year; and
(f) Any other information reasonably requested by the Commission.
This information will considered public and must be submitted electronically.
6.9 WIND RESOURCE USE
The Permittee shall, upon the request of the Commission, report to the Commission on the
monthly energy production of the Project and the average monthly wind speed collected at one
permanent meteorological tower selected by the Commission during the preceding year or partial
year of operation. Section 11.7 shall apply data provided pursuant to section.
10
6.10 EXTRAORDINARY EVENTS
Within twenty-four (24) hours of an occurrence, the Permittee shall notify the Commission of
any extraordinary event. Extraordinary events include but shall not be limited to: fires, tower
collapse, thrown blade, collector or feeder line failure, injured LWECS worker or private person.
The Permittee shall, within thirty (30) days of the occurrence, submit a report to the Commission
describing the cause of the occurrence, conditions and the steps taken to avoid future
occurrences.
SECTION 7
CONSTRUCTION AND OPERATION PRACTICES
7.1 SITE CLEARANCE
The Permittee shall disturb or clear the site only to the extent necessary to assure suitable access
for construction, safe operation, and maintenance of the Project.
7.2 TOPSOIL PROTECTION
The Permittee shall implement measures to protect and segregate topsoil from subsoil in
cultivated lands unless otherwise negotiated with the affected landowner(s).
7.3 SOIL COMPACTION
The Permittee shall implement measures to minimize soil compaction of all lands during all
phases of the Project's life and shall confine compaction to as small an area as practicable.
7.4 LIVESTOCK PROTECTION
The Permittee shall take precautions to protect livestock during all phases of the Project's life.
7.5 FENCES
The Permittee shall promptly replace or repair all fences and gates removed or damaged during
all phases of the Project's life unless otherwise negotiated with the affected landowner(s). When
the Permittee installs a gate where electric fences are present, the Permittee shall provide for
continuity in the electric fence circuit.
7.6 DRAINAGE TILES
The Permittee shall take into account the location of drainage tiles during Project layout and
construction. The Permittee shall promptly repair or replace all drainage tiles broken or
damaged during all phases of the Project's life unless otherwise negotiated with the affected
landowner(s).
11
7.7 EQUIPMENT STORAGE
The Permittee shall not locate temporary equipment staging areas on lands under its control
unless negotiated with affected landowner(s). Temporary staging areas shall not be located in
wetlands or native prairie as defined in Sections 4.6 and 4.7.
7.8. ROADS
7.8.1 PUBLIC ROADS
At least ten (10) working days prior to the pre-construction meeting, the Permittee shall identify
all state, county or township roads that will be used for the Project and shall notify the
Commission and the state, county or township governing body having jurisdiction over the roads
to determine if the governmental body needs to inspect the roads prior to use of these roads.
Where practical, existing roadways shall be used for all activities associated with the Project.
Where practical, all-weather roads shall be used to deliver cement, turbines, towers, assembled
nacelles and all other heavy components to and from the turbine sites.
The Permittee shall, prior to the use of such roads, make satisfactory arrangements with the
appropriate state, county or township governmental body having jurisdiction over roads to be
used for construction of the Project for maintenance and repair of roads that will be subject to
extra wear and tear due to transportation of equipment and Project components. Upon request of
the Commission, the Permittee shall notify the Commission of such arrangements.
7.8.2 TURBINE ACCESS ROADS
The Permittee shall construct the least number of turbine access roads it can. Access roads shall
be low profile roads so that farming equipment can cross them and shall be covered with Class 5
gravel or similar material. Access roads shall not be constructed across streams and drainage
ways without required permits and approvals from the DNR, USFWS, and/or (USACOE. When
access roads are constructed across streams and drainage ways, the access roads shall be
designed in a manner so runoff from the upper portions of the watershed can readily flow to the
lower portion of the watershed. Access roads shall also be constructed in accordance with all
necessary township, county or state road requirements and permits.
7.8.3 PRIVATE ROADS
The Permittee shall promptly repair private roads or lanes damaged when moving equipment or
when obtaining access to the site, unless otherwise negotiated with the affected landowner(s).
7.9 CLEANUP
The Permittee shall remove all waste and scrap that is the product of construction, operation,
restoration and maintenance from the site and properly dispose of it upon completion of each
task. Personal litter, bottles, and paper deposited by site personnel shall be removed on a daily
basis.
7.10 TREE REMOVAL
12
The Permittee shall minimize the removal of trees and the Permittee shall not remove groves of
trees or shelter belts without notification to the Commission and the approval of the affected
landowner(s) or designee.
7.11 SOIL EROSION AND SEDIMENT CONTROL
The Permittee shall develop a Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Plan and submit the Plan to the
Commission at least ten (10) working days prior to the pre-construction meeting. This Plan may
be the same as the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) submitted to the PCA as
part of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit application.
The Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Plan shall address what types of erosion control
measures will be implemented during each Project phase and shall at a minimum identify: plans
for grading, construction and drainage of roads and turbine pads; necessary soil information;
detailed design features to maintain downstream water quality; a comprehensive re-vegetation
plan to maintain and ensure adequate erosion control and slope stability and to restore the site
after temporary Project activities; and measures to minimize the area of surface disturbance.
Other practices shall include containing excavated material, protecting exposed soil, and
stabilizing restored material and removal of silt fences or barriers when the area is stabilized.
The plan shall identify methods for disposal or storage of excavated material. Erosion and
sedimentation control measures shall be implemented prior to construction and maintained
throughout the Project's life.
The Permittee shall develop an invasive species prevention plan to prevent the introduction of
invasive species on lands disturbed by project construction activities. This requirement may be
included as an element of the Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Plan.
7.12 RESTORATION
The Permittee shall, as soon as practical following construction of each turbine, considering the
weather and preferences of the landowner(s), restore the area affected by any Project activities to
the condition that existed immediately before construction began, to the extent possible. The
time period may be no longer than twelve (12) months after completion of construction of the
turbine, unless otherwise negotiated with the affected landowner(s). Restoration shall be
compatible with the safe operation, maintenance, and inspection of the Project.
7.13 HAZARDOUS WASTE
The Permittee shall be responsible for compliance with all laws applicable to the generation,
storage, transportation, clean-up and disposal of hazardous wastes generated during any phase of
the Project's life.
7.14 APPLICATION OF HERBICIDES
The Permittee shall restrict herbicide use to those herbicides and methods of application
approved by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency. Selective foliage or basal application shall be used when practicable. The Permittee
13
shall contact the landowner(s) or designee to obtain approval for the use of herbicide prior to any
application on their property. The landowner may request that there be no application of
herbicides on any part of the site within the landowner's property. All herbicides shall be applied
in a safe and cautious manner so as to not damage property, including crops, orchards, tree
farms, or gardens. The Permittee shall also, at least ten (10) days prior to the application, notify
beekeepers with an active apiary within one mile of the proposed application site of the day the
Permittee intends to apply herbicide so that precautionary measures may be taken by the
beekeeper(s).
7.15 PUBLIC SAFETY
The Permittee shall provide educational materials to landowners within the site boundary and,
upon request, to interested persons, about the Project and any restrictions or dangers associated
with the Project. The Permittee shall also provide any necessary safety measures, such as
warning signs and gates for traffic control or to restrict public access. The Permittee shall submit
the location of all underground facilities, as defined in Minnesota Statute 216D.01, Subdivision
11, to Gopher State One Call.
7.16 EMERGENCY RESPONSE
The Permittee shall prepare an emergency response plan (fire protection and medical emergency
plan) in consultation with the emergency responders having jurisdiction over the area prior to
Project construction. The Permittee shall submit a copy of the plan to the Commission at least
ten (10) working days prior to the pre-construction meeting and a revised plan, if any, at least
ten (10) working days prior to the pre-operation meeting. The Permittee shall also register the
Project with the local governments’ emergency 911 services.
7.17 TOWER IDENTIFICATION
All turbine towers shall be marked with a visible identification number.
7.18 FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION LIGHTING
Tower shall be marked as required by the FAA. There shall be no lights on the towers other than
what is required by the FAA. This restriction shall not apply to infrared heating devices used to
protect the wind monitoring equipment.
SECTION 8
FINAL CONSTRUCTION
8.1 AS-BUILT PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS
Within sixty (60) days after completion of construction, the Permittee shall submit to the
Commission a copy of the as-built plans and specifications. The Permittee must also submit this
data in a geographic information system compatible format so that the Commission can place it
into the Minnesota Geospatial Information Office’s geographic data clearinghouse located in the
Department of Administration.
14
8.2 FINAL BOUNDARIES
After completion of construction, the Commission shall determine the need to adjust the final
boundaries of the site required for this Project. If done, this Permit may be modified, after notice
and opportunity for public hearing, to represent the actual site required by the Permittee to
operate the Project authorized by this permit.
8.3 EXPANSION OF SITE BOUNDARIES
No expansion of the site boundaries described in this Permit shall be authorized without the
approval of the Commission. The Permittee may submit to the Commission a request for a
change in the boundaries of the site for the Project. The Commission will respond to the
requested change in accordance with applicable statutes and rules.
SECTION 9
DECOMMISSIONING, RESTORATION, AND ABANDONMENT
9.1 DECOMMISSIONING PLAN
At least ten (10) working days prior to pre-operation compliance meeting, the Permittee shall
submit to the Commission a Decommissioning Plan documenting the manner in which the
Permittee anticipates decommissioning the Project in accordance with the requirements of
Minnesota Rules part 7854.0500, subp.13. The Permittee shall ensure that it carries out its
obligations to provide for the resources necessary to fulfill its requirements to properly
decommission the Project at the appropriate time. The Commission may at any time request the
Permittee to file a report with the Commission describing how the Permittee is fulfilling this
obligation.
9.2 SITE RESTORATION
Upon expiration of this Permit, or upon earlier termination of operation of the Project, or any
turbine within the Project, the Permittee shall have the obligation to dismantle and remove from
the site all towers, turbine generators, transformers, overhead and underground cables,
foundations, buildings and ancillary equipment to a depth of four feet. To the extent feasible the
Permittee shall restore and reclaim the site to its pre-project topography and topsoil quality. All
access roads shall be removed unless written approval is given by the affected landowner(s) or
designees requesting that one or more roads, or portions thereof, be retained. Any agreement for
removal to a lesser depth or no removal shall be recorded with the county and shall show the
locations of all such foundations. All such agreements between the Permittee and the affected
landowner(s) or designee shall be submitted to the Commission prior to completion of
restoration activities. The site shall be restored in accordance with the requirements of this
condition within eighteen (18) months after expiration of this Permit, or upon earlier termination
of the Project, or any turbine within the Project.
9.3 ABANDONED TURBINES
The Permittee shall advise the Commission of any turbines that are abandoned prior to
termination of operation of the Project. A Project, or any turbine within the Project, shall be
15
considered abandoned after one (1) year without energy production and the land restored
pursuant to Section 9.2 unless a plan is developed and submitted to the Commission outlining the
steps and schedule for returning the Project, or any turbine within the Project, to service.
SECTION 10
AUTHORITY TO CONSTRUCT LWECS
10.1 WIND RIGHTS
At least ten (10) working days prior to pre-construction meeting, the Permittee shall demonstrate
that it has obtained the wind rights and any other rights necessary to construct and operate the
Project within the site boundaries established by this Permit.
Nothing in this Permit shall be construed to preclude any other person from seeking a site permit
to construct a wind energy conversion system in any area within the site boundaries established
by this Permit if the Permittee does not hold exclusive wind rights for such areas.
10.2 POWER PURCHASE AGREEMENT
In the event the Permittee does not have a power purchase agreement or some other enforceable
mechanism for the sale of the electricity to be generated by the Project at the time this permit is
issued, the Permittee shall provide notice to the Commission when it obtains a commitment for
the purchase of the power. This Permit does not authorize construction of the Project until the
Permittee has obtained a power purchase agreement or some other enforceable mechanism for
sale of the electricity to be generated by the Project. In the event the Permittee does not obtain a
power purchase agreement or some other enforceable mechanism for sale of the electricity to be
generated by the Project within two years of the issuance of this Permit, the Permittee must
advise the PUC of the reason for not having such power purchase agreement or enforceable
mechanism. In such event, the PUC may determine whether this Permit should be amended or
revoked. No amendment or revocation of this Permit may be undertaken except in accordance
with applicable statutes and rules, including Minnesota Rule 7854.1300.
10.3 FAILURE TO COMMENCE CONSTRUCTION
If the Permittee has not completed the pre-construction surveys required under this permit and
has not commenced construction of the Project within two (2) years of the issuance of this
Permit, the Permittee must advise the Commission of the reason(s) construction has not
commenced. In such event, the Commission shall make a determination as to whether this
Permit should be amended or revoked. No revocation of this Permit may be undertaken except
in accordance with applicable statutes and rules, including Minnesota Rule 7854.1300.
10.4 PREEMPTION OF OTHER LAWS
Pursuant to Minnesota Statute 216F.07, this Site Permit shall be the only site approval required
for the location of this Project, and this Permit shall supersede and preempt all zoning, building,
and land use rules, regulations, and ordinances adopted by regional, county, local, and special
purpose governments. Nothing in this Permit shall release the Permittee from any obligation
imposed by law that is not superseded or preempted by law.
16
10.5 OTHER PERMITS
The Permittee shall be responsible for acquiring any other federal, state, or local permits or
authorizations that may be required to construct and operate a LWECS within the authorized site,
and that are not otherwise preempted or superseded by Minn. Stat. 216F.07. The Permittee shall
submit a copy of such permits and authorizations to the Commission upon request.
10.5.1 COMPLIANCE WITH FEDERAL AND STATE AGENCY PERMITS
The Permittee shall comply with all terms and conditions of permits or licenses issued by
Federal, State, or Tribal authorities including, but not limited to, the requirements of the PCA
(Section 401 Water Quality Certification, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
(NPDES/State Disposal System (SDS) stormwater permit for construction activity, and other site
specific approvals), DNR (License to Cross Public Lands and Water, Public Waters Work
Permit, and state protected species consultation); SHPO (Section 106 Historic Consultation Act);
FAA determinations, and the DOT (Utility Access Permit, Highway Access Permit and Oversize
and Overweight Permit, and Aeronautics Airspace Obstruction Permit).
10.5.2 COMPLIANCE WITH COUNTY, CITY OR MUNICIPAL PERMITS
The Permittee shall comply with all terms and conditions of permits or licenses issued by the
counties, cities and municipalities affected by the project that do not conflict or are not preempted by federal or state permits and regulations.
SECTION 11
COMMISSION POST-ISSUANCE AUTHORITIES
11.1 PERIODIC REVIEW
The Commission shall initiate a review of this Permit and the applicable conditions at least once
every five (5) years. The purpose of the periodic review is to allow the Commission, the
Permittee, and other interested persons an opportunity to consider modifications in the conditions
of the Permit. No modification may be made except in accordance with applicable statutes and
rules.
11.2 MODIFICATION OF CONDITIONS
After notice and opportunity for hearing, this Permit may be modified or amended for cause,
including but not limited to the following:
(a) Violation of any condition in this Permit;
(b) Endangerment of human health or the environment by operation of the facility: or
(c) Existence of other grounds established by rule.
17
11.3 REVOCATION OR SUSPENSION OF THE PERMIT
The Commission may take action to suspend or revoke this permit upon the grounds that:
(a) A false statement was knowingly made in the application or in accompanying
statements or studies required of the Permittee, and a true statement would have
warranted a change in the Commission’s findings;
(b) There has been a failure to comply with material conditions of this permit, or there
has been a failure to maintain health and safety standards; or
(c) There has been a material violation of a provision of an applicable statute, rule, or an
order of the Commission.
In the event the Commission determines that it is appropriate to consider revocation or
suspension of this permit, the Commission shall proceed in accordance with the requirements of
Minnesota Rule 7854.1300 to determine the appropriate action. Upon a finding of any of the
above, the Commission may require the Permittee to undertake corrective measures in lieu of
having this permit suspended or revoked.
11.4 MORE STRINGENT RULES
The Commission’s issuance of this Site Permit does not prevent the future adoption by the
Commission of rules or orders more stringent than those now in existence and does not prevent
the enforcement of these more stringent rules and orders against the Permittee.
11.5 TRANSFER OF PERMIT
The Permittee may not transfer this Permit without the approval of the Commission. If the
Permittee desires to transfer this Permit, the holder shall advise the Commission in writing of
such desire. The Permittee shall provide the Commission with such information about the
transfer as the Commission requires to reach a decision. The Commission may impose
additional conditions on any new Permittee as part of the approval of the transfer.
11.6 RIGHT OF ENTRY
Upon reasonable notice, presentation of credentials and at all times in compliance with the
Permittee’s site safety standards, the Permittee shall allow representatives of the Commission to
perform the following:
(a)
To enter upon the facilities easement of the site property for the purpose of
obtaining information, examining records, and conducting surveys or
investigations;
(b)
To bring such equipment upon the facilities easement of the property as is necessary
to conduct such surveys and investigations;
(c)
To sample and monitor upon the facilities easement of the property; and
18
(d)
To examine and copy any documents pertaining to compliance with the conditions
of this permit.
11.7 PROPRIETARY INFORMATION
Certain information required to be submitted to the Commission under this Permit, including
energy production and wake loss data, may constitute trade secret information or other type of
proprietary information under the Data Practices Act or other law and is not to be made available
by the Commission. The Permittee must satisfy requirements of applicable law and Commission
procedures to obtain the protection afforded by the law.
SECTION 12
EXPIRATION DATE
This Permit shall expire thirty (30) years after final permit issuance.
SECTION 13
SPECIAL CONDITIONS
Special conditions shall take precedence over any of the other conditions of this Permit if there
should be a conflict between the two.
13.1 AVIAN AND BAT PROTECTION PLAN SPECIAL PROVISION
The Avian and Bat Protection Plan in Section 6.7 shall include plans and protocols for pre- and
post-construction surveys and protection measures for eagles, bats and Loggerhead Shrike.
Annual reports of the results of these efforts, including results of the post-construction avian and
bat surveys, shall to be submitted to the Commission, DNR, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
in accordance with other requirements of this permit. Based on those results, the Commission
may modify conditions in this permit pursuant to Section 11.2.
13.1.1 Eagles
The permittee shall develop a plan for monitoring Bald and Golden Eagle nest sites near turbine
locations and shall develop protocol to identify proposed point count locations, suggested count
duration and number of survey visits. Point counts of 20-30 minutes shall be conducted to
document eagle movements in these areas. Multiple point count visits shall be conducted to
cover the remainder of the 2011 nesting season (eaglets are expected to fledge by mid-July).
Additional point counts shall be conducted in the fall of 2011 and the winter of 2011-2012.
Details of the plan shall be included in the Avian and Bat Protection Plan. Ongoing monitoring
for eagles shall be conducted in accordance with the Avian and Bat Protection Plan and U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service requirements. The Permittee shall submit the results of the summer, fall,
and winter surveys, and any subsequent surveys, to the Commission within one month of
completion of the surveys.
13.1.2 Bats
19
The Permittee shall install a minimum of two Anabat detectors on each temporary or permanent
meteorological tower. Data should be collected, at a minimum, from July 15 to November 15,
2011, and May 1 to November 15, 2012. One Anabat detector on each meteorological tower
shall be mounted at 5 meters above ground, and one shall be mounted as close to the rotor-swept
area as possible. Additional monitoring or mitigation measures may be imposed based on results
obtained from bat surveys. The Permittee shall submit the results of the 2011 monitoring by
December 15, 2011 and the 2012 monitoring by December 15, 2012. Each report shall include
an update on the status of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service potential listing of the Northern
long-eared bat.
13.1.3 Loggerhead Shrike
The Permittee shall avoid placement of turbines in areas identified as highly suitable or very
highly suitable loggerhead shrike habitat. Alternate turbine sites are to be considered the
primary avoidance strategy. If alternate sites cannot be utilized, the Permittee shall provide the
Commission and DNR with a Loggerhead Shrike Protection Plan for approval by the
Commission detailing why avoidance is not possible, outlining strategies to minimize effects to
Loggerhead Shrike, and providing mitigation measures for impacts. Permittee shall conduct two
years of post-construction fatality monitoring to evaluate the impacts of wind turbines sited in
loggerhead shrike habitat determined to be highly to very highly suitable.
13.2 APPLICATION OF GOODHUE COUNTY STANDARDS
The Permittee shall site all wind turbines and associated facilities in accordance with the
following provisions of Goodhue County’s Wind Energy Conversion System Ordinance:
(a) Section 3, Subd. 6 [Liability Insurance] The Project Owner must provide proof of
liability insurance covering the towers/project covering the lifespan of the project
from the initial construction to final decommissioning.
(b) Section 5, Subd. 6 [Lighting] Lighting, including lighting intensity and frequency of
strobe, shall adhere to but not exceed requirements established by Federal Aviation
Administration. Red strobe lights are preferred and for night-time illumination to
reduce impacts on migrating birds. Red pulsating incandescent lights should be
avoided. Exceptions may be made for metrological towers, where concerns exist
relative to aerial spray applicators.
(c) Section 5, Subd. 8 [Feeder Line] All communication and feeder line, equal to or less
than 34.5 kilovolts in capacity, installed as part of a WEC shall be buried where
reasonably feasible. Feeder lines installed as part of a WECS shall not be considered
an essential service. This standard applies to all feeder lines subject to Goodhue
County Ordinances.
(d) Section 5, Subd. 10 [Avoidance and mitigation of damages to Public Infrastructure]
Items A – H, [Note: AWA Goodhue Wind, LLC has entered into a “Development
Agreement” with Goodhue County. The conditions of the Development Agreement
incorporate the requirements of Section 5, Subd. 10].
20
ATTACHMENT 1
Page 1 of 3
ATTACHMENT 1
Page 2 of 3
SITE PERMIT MAP
ATTACHMENT 1
Page 3 of 3
SITE PERMIT MAP
ATTACHMENT 2
Page 1 of 3
MINNESOTA PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION
COMPLAINT HANDLING PROCEDURES
FOR
LARGE WIND ENERGY CONVERSION SYSTEMS
A.
Purpose:
To establish a uniform and timely method of reporting complaints received by the
Permittee concerning Permit conditions for site preparation, construction, cleanup and
restoration, operation and resolution of such complaints.
B.
Scope:
This document describes Complaint reporting procedures and frequency.
C.
Applicability:
The procedures shall be used for all complaints received by the Permittee and all
complaints received by the Commission under Minn. Rule 7829.1500 or 7829.1700
relevant to this Permit.
D.
Definitions:
Complaint: A verbal or written statement presented to the permittee by a person
expressing dissatisfaction or concern regarding site preparation, cleanup or restoration or
other LWECS and associated facilities site permit conditions. Complaints do not include
requests, inquiries, questions or general comments.
Substantial Complaint: A written Complaint alleging a violation of a specific Site Permit
condition that, if substantiated, could result in Permit modification or suspension
pursuant to the applicable regulations.
Unresolved Complaint: A Complaint which, despite the good faith efforts of the
permittee and a person(s), remains to both or one of the parties unresolved or
unsatisfactorily resolved.
Person: An individual, partnership, joint venture, private or public corporation,
association, firm, public service company, cooperative, political subdivision, municipal
corporation, government agency, public utility district, or any other entity, public or
private, however organized.
E.
Complaint Documentation and Processing:
1. The Permittee shall document all Complaints by maintaining a record of all
applicable information concerning the Complaint, including the following:
ATTACHMENT 2
Page 2 of 3
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
Name of complainant, address, phone number, and e-mail address.
Precise property description or parcel number.
Name of Permittee representative receiving Complaint and date of receipt.
Nature of Complaint and the applicable Site Permit conditions(s).
Activities undertaken to resolve the Complaint.
Final disposition of the Complaint.
2. The Permittee shall designate an individual to summarize Complaints for the
Commission. This person’s name, phone number and e-mail address shall
accompany all complaint submittals.
3. A Person presenting the Complaint should to the extent possible, include the
following information in their communications:
a.
b.
c.
d.
F.
Name, address, phone number, and e-mail address.
Date
Tract or parcel
Whether the complaint relates to (1) a Site Permit matter, (2) a LWECS and
associated facility issue, or (3) a compliance issue.
Reporting Requirements:
The Permittee shall report all complaints to the Commission according to the following
schedule:
Immediate Reports: All substantial complaints shall be reported to the Commission the
same day received, or on the following working day for complaints received after
working hours. Such reports are to be directed to Wind Permit Compliance, 1-800-6573794, or by e-mail to: [email protected] Voice messages are
acceptable.
Monthly Reports: By the 15th of each month, a summary of all complaints, including
substantial complaints received or resolved during the preceding month, shall be Filed to
Dr. Burl W. Haar, Executive Secretary, Public Utilities Commission, using the Minnesota
Department of Commerce eDocket system (see eFiling instructions attached to this
permit).
If no Complaints were received during the preceding month, the permittee shall submit
(eFile) a summary indicating that no complaints were received.
G.
Complaints Received by the Commission or Commerce:
Complaints received directly by the Commission from aggrieved persons regarding site
preparation, construction, cleanup, restoration, operation and maintenance shall be
promptly sent to the Permittee.
ATTACHMENT 2
Page 3 of 3
H.
Commission Process for Unresolved Complaints:
Initial Screening: Commission staff shall perform an initial evaluation of unresolved
Complaints submitted to the Commission. Complaints raising substantial LWECS Site
Permit issues shall be processed and resolved by the Commission. Staff shall notify
Permittee and appropriate person(s) if it determines that the Complaint is a Substantial
Complaint. With respect to such Complaints, each party shall submit a written summary
of its position to the Commission no later than ten (10) days after receipt of the Staff
notification. Staff shall present Briefing Papers to the Commission, which shall resolve
the Complaint within twenty days of submission of the Briefing Papers.
I.
Permittee Contacts for Complaints:
Mailing Address: Complaints filed by mail shall be sent to one of the
addresses below:
AWA Goodhue, LLC
706 2nd Avenue South, Suite 1200
Minneapolis, MN 55402
Tel: 612-746-6600
ATTACHMENT 3
MINNESOTA PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION
COMPLIANCE FILING PROCEDURE
FOR PERMITTED ENERGY FACILITIES
1.
Purpose
To establish a uniform and timely method of submitting information required by the
Commission energy facility permits.
2.
Scope and Applicability
This procedure encompasses all compliance filings required by permit.
3.
Definitions
Compliance Filing – A sending (filing) of information to the Commission, where the
information is required by a Commission site or route permit.
4.
Responsibilities
A)
The permittee shall eFile all compliance filings with Dr. Burl Haar, Executive
Secretary, Public Utilities Commission, through the Department of Commerce
(DOC) eDocket system. The system is located on the DOC website:
https://www.edockets.state.mn.us/EFiling/home.jsp
General instructions are provided on the website. Permittees must register on the
website to eFile documents.
B)
All filings must have a cover sheet that includes:
1) Date
2) Name of submitter / permittee
3) Type of Permit (Site or Route)
4) Project Location
5) Project Docket Number
6) Permit Section Under Which the Filing is Made
7) Short Description of the Filing
C)
Filings that are graphic intensive (e.g., maps, plan and profile) must, in addition to
being eFiled, be submitted as paper copies and on CD. Copies and CDs should be
sent to: 1) Dr. Burl W. Haar, Executive Secretary, Minnesota Public Utilities
Commission, 121 7th Place East, Suite 350, St. Paul, MN, 55101-2147, and 2)
Department of Commerce, Energy Facility Permitting, 85 7th Place East, Suite 500,
St. Paul, MN, 55101-2198. Additionally, the Commission may request a paper
copy of any eFiled document.
ATTACHMENT 4
Page 1 of 3
PERMIT COMPLIANCE FILINGS 1
PERMITTEE:
AWA Goodhue, LLC
PERMIT TYPE:
LWECS Site Permit
PROJECT LOCATION:
Goodhue County
COMMISSION DOCKET NUMBER: IP-6701/WS-08-1233
PRE-CONSTRUCTION MEETING
Permit
Section
Description
Due Date
10 working days prior to
Native Prairie
pre-construction meeting,
Protection Plan
if required.
4.7
5.1
Site Plan
10 working days prior to
pre-construction meeting.
5.4
Field
Representative
10 working days prior to
pre-construction meeting.
Complaint
Reporting
Procedures
Biological &
Natural
Resource
Inventories
Shadow
Flicker
Analysis
5.8
6.1
6.2
6.3
Archaeological
Resources
6.4
Interference
6.5
Wake Loss
1
Notes
eDocket
Doc. ID
Develop in
consultation with
Commission and
DNR.
10 working days prior to
pre-construction meeting.
30 days prior to preconstruction
Meeting.
Results may
trigger need for a
Native Prairie
Protection Plan.
10 working days prior to
pre-construction meeting.
10 working days prior to
pre-construction
meeting and as
recommended by the State
Historic Preservation
Office.
10 working days prior to
pre-construction
Meeting.
10 working days prior to
pre-construction meeting.
This compilation of permit compliance filings is provided for the convenience of the permittee and the
Commission. However, it is not a substitute for the permit; the language of the permit controls.
Date
Filed
ATTACHMENT 4
Page 2 of 3
PRE-CONSTRUCTION MEETING (Continued)
Permit
Section
Description
Due Date
6.7
Avian and Bat 10 days prior to preProtection Plan construction meeting.
7.8
Road
Identification
7.11
Soil Erosion &
Sediment
Control
Plan
Notes
eDocket
Doc. ID
Date
Filed
Develop in
consultation with
Commission and
DNR.
10 working days prior to
pre-construction meeting.
10 working days prior to
pre-construction.
7.16
Emergency
Response
10 working days prior to
pre-construction meeting.
Must register in 911
Program.
10.1
Wind Rights
10 working days prior to
pre-construction meeting.
May be the same
as NPDES
SWPPP.
PRE-OPERATION COMPLIANCE MEETING
Permit
Section
Description
Due Date
5.7
Pre-operation
compliance
meeting
10 working days prior to
commercial operation.
6.6
Noise Study
Protocol
10 working days prior to
pre-operation meeting.
Decommissioning Plan
10 working days prior to
commercial operation.
9.1 &
9.3
Notes
eDocket
Doc. ID
Date
Filed
ATTACHMENT 4
Page 3 of 3
OTHER REQUIREMENTS
Permit
Section
5.2
Description
Notice to
Government
Units and
Landowners
Due Date
Notes
Units of Government
within 10 working days of
permit issuance.
Landowners within 30
calendar days of permit
issuance.
10 working days prior to
prior to commercial
operation.
Complaint submittals on
the 15th of each month or
within 24 hours.
Update contact
information as
necessary.
Must eFile report
even if no
complaints.
5.5
Site Manager
5.8
Complaints
6.6
Noise Study
Results
Within 18 months of
Commercial Operation.
6.7 &
13.1
Avian and Bat
Reporting
Requirements
Quarterly reports due and
within 24 hours of
discovery of certain
species.
6.8
Project Energy
Production
Due 2/1 each year.
6.9
Wind Resource Upon request of the
Use
Commission.
6.10
Extraordinary
Events
Within 24 hours and report
on occurrence of event
within 30 days.
8.1
As Builts
Within 60 days of
completion of construction.
10.2
PPA or
Enforceable
Mechanism
Within 2 years of permit
issuance.
10.3
Failure to Start
Construction
Within 2 years of permit
issuance.
If no PPA or
other enforceable
mechanism at
time of permit
issuance.
eDocket
Doc. ID
Date
Filed
6-20-2011
STATE OF MINNESOTA
PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION
Ellen Anderson
Phyllis Reha
J. Dennis O’Brien
David Boyd
Betsy Wergin
Chair
Vice Chair
Commissioner
Commissioner
Commissioner
In the Matter of the Application of
AWA Goodhue, LLC for a
a Site Permit for a 78 Megawatt
Large Wind Energy Conversion
System and Associated Facilities in
Goodhue County
ISSUE DATE: August 23, 2011
DOCKET NO. IP-6701/WS-08-1233
FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS
OF LAW AND ORDER, ISSUING A
SITE PERMIT TO AWA GOODHUE
WIND, LLC FOR THE GOODHUE
WIND PROJECT
The above-entitled matter came before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (Commission)
pursuant to an application submitted by AWA Goodhue, LLC (AWA Goodhue or the Applicant)
for a site permit to construct, operate, maintain and manage a 78 Megawatt (MW) nameplate
capacity Large Wind Energy Conversion System (LWECS), including associated facilities, in
Goodhue County.
A public hearing was held on July 21 and July 22, 2010, in Goodhue, Minnesota. The hearing
was presided over by Judge Eric L. Lipman, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) for the Minnesota
Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). The hearing continued until all persons who desired
to speak had done so. The public hearing comment period closed on August 6, 2010. The OAH
held an evidentiary hearing regarding the applicability of Goodhue County's Wind Energy
Conversion System Ordinance presided over by ALJ Kathleen D. Sheehy on March 15-17, 2011,
in St. Paul. Members of the public were allowed to question witnesses and offer testimony. The
OAH evidentiary hearing record closed on April 8, 2011.
STATEMENT OF ISSUE
Should AWA Goodhue, LLC (AWA Goodhue) be granted a site permit under Minnesota
Statutes section 216F.04 to construct a 78 MW Large Wind Energy Conversion System and
associated facilities in Goodhue County?
Based upon the record created in this proceeding, the Public Utilities Commission makes the
following findings:
FINDINGS OF FACT
Background and Procedure
1.
On October 24, 2008, Goodhue Wind, LLC (Goodhue Wind) filed a site permit
application with the Public Utilities Commission for up to 78 MWs of nameplate wind
power generating capacity and associated facilities identified as the Goodhue Wind
Project in Goodhue County. On October l9, 2009, Goodhue Wind filed a revised
LWECS site permit application (Exhibit 1, p. 1).
2.
Department of Commerce (DOC) Energy Facility Permitting (EFP) staff reviewed and
determined that the October 19, 2009, application complied with the application
requirements of Minnesota Rules 7854.0500. In its comments and recommendations to
the Commission, dated November 12, 2009, EFP staff recommended that the
Commission accept the application (Exhibit 2).
3.
On November 30, 2009, the Commission issued its Order accepting the application for
the Goodhue Wind Project and associated facilities (Exhibit 3).
4.
On December 4, 2009, EFP staff issued a “Notice of Application Acceptance” to provide
notice of the Commission’s acceptance of the application and to solicit comments on
application completeness and issues that should be considered in developing a draft site
permit for the project (Exhibit 4).
5.
On December 10-11, 2009, Goodhue Wind distributed copies of the “Site Permit
Application for the Goodhue Wind Project, Notice of Application Acceptance, and a Map
of the Project Boundaries” to government agencies and to landowners within the project
boundary (Exhibit 5). The notice and application distribution met the requirements of
Minnesota Rules 7854.0600, subparts 2 and 3. (Exhibit 5).
6.
Published notice of site permit application acceptance and opportunity to comment on the
application completeness and issues to consider in the development of a Draft Site Permit
appeared in the Cannon Falls Beacon on December 10, 2009, the Red Wing Republican
Eagle on December 9, 2009, and the Zumbrota New-Record on December 9, 2009
(Exhibit 6). Notice also appeared on the Commission’s web site on December 18, 2009.
The published notice meets the requirements of Minnesota Rule 7854.0600, subp. 2.
7.
Public comments on the completeness of the site permit application were accepted until
January 22, 2009. EFP staff received public comments on the site permit application
from 10 citizens and four government agencies, and they are summarized in the EFP
Comments and Recommendations presented to the Commission at its April 15, 2010,
meeting in conjunction with the request for issuance of a Draft Site Permit for the
Goodhue Wind Project (Exhibit 10).
2
8.
On February 12, 2010, EFP staff issued a “Notice of Public Information and Scoping
Meeting” to provide information about the proposed Project and to announce that a
public meeting would be held on March 4, 2010, to take public comment and input on
issues to be considered in the scope of the Environmental Report to be prepared for the
Certificate of Need (Exhibit 7).
9.
On February 16, 2010, AWA Goodhue representatives mailed copies of the “Notice of
Public Information and Scoping Meeting” to residents and governmental agencies in the
vicinity of the Project (Exhibit 8).
10.
The “Notice of Public Information and Scoping Meeting” was published in the Cannon
Falls Beacon on February 18, 2010, the Red Wing Republican Eagle on February 17,
2010, the Zumbrota New-Record on February 17, 2010, and the EQB Monitor, Vol.34.
No.4. on February 22, 2010 (Exhibit 9).
11.
The EFP staff held a public information and scoping meeting on March 4, 2010, at the
Zumbrota-Mazeppa Middle School in Mazeppa, Minnesota, to provide an overview of
the Commission permitting process and to receive comments on the scope of the
Environmental Report. Approximately 200 people attended the meeting.
Representatives from AWA Goodhue were also present, as was a representative of the
Commission. EFP staff provided an overview of Certificate of Need (CON) and LWECS
site permitting processes and responded to questions. EFP staff and AWA Goodhue
responded to project specific questions and general questions about wind energy. The
deadline for submitting comments regarding the scope of the Environmental Report was
March 26, 2010.
12.
Approximately 110 separate written comments were received during the comment period
on the scope of the Environmental Report. Concerns raised at the public meeting and in
written comments included: potential impacts to property values, aesthetics, public health
and safety related issues, livestock, wildlife (birds, bats, game animals and other wildlife
in the project area), wildlife habitat, TV and radio reception, internet connections, GPS
interference, stray voltage, loss of productive agricultural land, radar facilities, the Prairie
Island nuclear facility, private landing strips, Mayo One emergency medical helicopter
service, aerial crop applications, population density, setbacks, shadow flicker, noise
(audible and infrasound) as a result of turbine installation, quality of life issues, water
quality, road damages and turbine lighting. Other comments raised concerns regarding
the need for wind energy and suggested other fuel types, such as solar, nuclear, biomass,
hydropower, and methane digesters and locating the proposed facilities elsewhere.
13.
Goodhue Wind Truth filed a request for a contested case hearing in this matter on
February 12, 2010. On April 15, 2010, the Commission considered whether to grant a
contested case for this matter and whether to issue a draft site permit for the Project. On
May 3, 2010, the Commission issued an Order Approving Distribution of the Draft Site
Permit and Denying Contested Case but ordered that “the scope of the public hearing on
the Applicant’s request for a Certificate of Need proceeding in Docket No. IP-6701/CN09-1186 is hereby expanded to the extent feasible to include siting matters related to the
3
Draft Site Permit issued in this Order.” (Exhibit 11). On May 6, 2010, the Commission
issued an Erratum Notice attaching the Draft Site Permit which was inadvertently missing
from the May 3, 2010, Order. (Exhibit 12).
14.
On May 19, 2010, EFP staff issued a “Notice of Availability of Draft Site Permit.” This
notice was posted on eDockets and the energy facilities permitting web site on May 20,
2010 (Exhibit 13). The published notice contained all of the information required by
Minnesota Rules part 7854.0900, subp. 1.
15.
On May 20, 2010, AWA Goodhue representatives mailed copies of the “Notice of
Availability of Draft Site Permit” to residents and governmental agencies in the vicinity
of the Project. (Exhibit 14).
16.
The “Notice of Availability of Draft Site Permit” was published in the Cannon Falls
Beacon on May 27, 2010, the Red Wing Republican Eagle on May 26, 2010, and the
Zumbrota News-Record on May 26, 2010. (Exhibit 15). On May 31, 2010, the “Notice
of Availability of Draft Site Permit” was published in the EQB Monitor, Volume 34, No.
11, pages 5-8.
17.
On June 30, 2010, EFP staff issued “Notice of Public Hearing, Notice of Availability of
Environmental Report and Notice of Availability of Draft Site Permit.” (Exhibit 16).
Representatives of AWA Goodhue mailed the notice to landowners and government
officials on June 30, 2010. The notice was published in the Cannon Falls Beacon on July
8, 2010, the Red Wing Republican Eagle on July 7, 2010, and the Zumbrota News-Record
on July 7, 2010. (Exhibit 17). The notice was also published in the EQB Monitor,
Volume 34, No. 14, pages 5-9, on July 12, 2010.
18.
On July 21, 2010, and July 22, 2010, a public hearing was held at the Goodhue High
School in Goodhue, Minnesota, to receive public testimony on need and siting matters.
Approximately 200 persons attended the public hearings, which included one afternoon
and one evening session each day, and 56 persons provided oral testimony. Public
comments and exhibits were recorded and entered into the record, with additional written
comments allowed to be submitted on or before August 6, 2010.
19.
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Eric L. Lipman presided over each session of the public
hearing on July 21, 2010, and July 22, 2010. The ALJ’s Summary of Public Testimony
was submitted to the Commission on September 7, 2010. (Exhibit 18).
20.
On October 5, 2010, Goodhue County enacted amendments to its Wind Energy
Conversion System Ordinances (Exhibit 20).
21.
On October 21, 2010, the AWA Goodhue Wind Project dockets were presented to the
Commission.
22.
In an order dated November 2, 2010, the Commission determined:
…that it cannot satisfactorily resolve, on the basis of the record before it, all
4
questions regarding the applicability of an ordinance adopted by the Goodhue
County Board of Commissioners on October 5, 2010, including whether there is
good cause for the Commission not to apply any standards adopted by the
Goodhue County Board that are more stringent than the standards currently
applied to LWECS by the Commission. The Commission will therefore refer the
matter to the Office of Administrative Hearings for a contested case proceeding to
develop the record and to receive the ALJ’s recommendations on the issues
identified below in Section III of this Notice and Order.
23.
On April 29, 2011, Kathleen D. Sheehy, Administrative Law Judge, filed with the
Commission the ALJ’s Findings of Fact, Conclusions and Recommendation on the issues
referred to hearing in the matter of the Application of AWA Goodhue Wind, LLC for a
Large Wind Energy Conversion System Site Permit for the 78 MW Goodhue Wind
Project in Goodhue County (Dockets OAH 3-2500-21662-2; PUC IP-6701/WS-08-1233).
(Exhibit 21).
Permittee
24.
Goodhue Wind, LLC, a Minnesota limited liability company, filed the initial and
amended site permit applications for the proposed 78 MW Goodhue Wind Project in
Goodhue County. On January 22, 2010, the Commission received notice that Goodhue
Wind and its financier, American Wind Alliance, LLC, formed a new project Minnesota
limited liability company, AWA Goodhue, LLC, to facilitate financing for the Goodhue
Wind Project and that all project assets were transferred to that entity. The notice stated
that, thereafter, AWA Goodhue, LLC would be the applicant for the project.
25.
AWA Goodhue will own and operate the Goodhue Wind Project. Energy generated from
the Project will be sold to Northern States Power Company d/b/a Xcel Energy (Xcel
Energy) via two separate 39 MW power purchase agreements that were approved by the
Commission on April 28, 2010. (See Commission Order dated April 28, 2010, in Docket
Nos. E002/M-09-1349 and E002/M-09-1350). Xcel Energy will use power generated by
the project to meet the renewable energy standards requirements pursuant to Minnesota
Statute section 216B.1691. Energy will be delivered into the Midwest Independent
Transmission System Operator (MISO) grid and used within the MISO footprint area.
Interconnection Agreement
26.
The Goodhue Wind Project has two signed interconnection agreements (H061 and H062)
with the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator for two proposed 69 kV
transmission line points of interconnection associated with the 78 MW Goodhue Wind
Project. AWA Goodhue, LLC also has two signed Facility Construction Agreements,
one with Northern States Power and the other with Great River Energy, for construction
of the associated transmission network upgrades pursuant the signed interconnection
agreements.
5
Project Description
27.
The Goodhue Wind Project involves construction of a combination of up to 50 GE 1.5
MW xle and 1.6 MW xle wind turbines and associated facilities representing 78 MW of
nameplate capacity.
28.
The GE 1.5 MW xle and GE 1.6 MW xle wind turbines have the same physical
characteristics. The wind turbine towers will be 80 meters (262.5 feet) in height. The
blades are approximately 125 feet long. Turbine rotor diameter will be 82.5 meters (271
feet) across. The overall height of the tower, nacelle and blade will be approximately 121
meters (397 feet) when one blade is in the vertical position. The rotor swept area is 5,346
square meters (57,543 square feet). The rotor speed may vary from 9 to 22 revolutions
per minute, corresponding to a maximum rotor tip speed of approximately 165.1 to 172.7
miles per hour (Exhibit 1, pages 12 through 14).
29.
The GE 1.6 MW xle turbine has different operating parameters and specifications that
allow the GE 1.6 MW wind turbines to produce increased electricity as compared to the
GE 1.5 MW xle wind turbines.
30.
The project will also include an underground automated supervisory control and data
acquisition system (SCADA) for communication purposes. Up to two permanent
meteorological towers will be used as part of the communication system. Other
components of the project include a concrete and steel foundation for each tower, padmounted step-up transformers, an operation and maintenance building, gravel access
roads, an underground energy collection system and two project substations. The
southern project substation will interconnect to an existing 69 kV transmission line
running through the project boundary. A separate 69 kV transmission line approximately
3 miles in length will connect the northern project substation to an existing 69 kV
transmission line adjacent to the Vasa Substation located north of the project boundary.
Goodhue County will be responsible for permitting the new 69 kV transmission line.
31.
The GE 1.5 MW xle and 1.6 MW xle wind turbines are three bladed, upwind, active yaw,
and active aerodynamic control regulated wind turbines. The turbines feature variablespeed control, active blade pitch control and Low Voltage Ride-Thru technology. Each
turbine is equipped with a wind direction sensor. The wind direction sensor
communicates with the computer system, which evaluates the measured wind parameters,
and, within a specified time interval, activates the yaw drives to align the nacelle to the
wind direction.
32.
Each turbine is interconnected through an underground electrical collection system at
34.5 kV. The feeder lines from the project collection system feed the power to the
independent breaker positions at the proposed project substations. The project
substations step up the voltage from the 34.5 kV collection systems to the transmission
system level. All of the proposed feeder lines would connect to the proposed project
substations within the site permit boundaries.
6
33.
The blades are made of fiberglass with a smooth layer of gel coat that provides ultraviolet
protection. The blades will be either white or grey in color. The blades will be equipped
with lightning protection. The entire turbine is also grounded and shielded to protect
against lightning.
34.
Each tower will be secured by a concrete foundation that will vary in size depending on
the soil conditions. A control panel that houses communication and electronic circuitry is
placed in each tower. In addition, a step-up, pad-mounted transformer is necessary for
each turbine to collect the power from the turbine and transfer it to a 34.5 kV collection
system via underground cables.
35.
All turbines and up to two permanent meteorological towers will be interconnected with
fiber optic communication cable that will be installed underground. The communication
cables will run back to a central host computer which will be located either at the project
substations or at the operation and maintenance facility where a supervisory control and
data acquisition (SCADA) system will be located. Signals from the current and potential
transformers at each of the delivery points will also be fed to the central SCADA host
computer. The SCADA system will be able to give status indications of the individual
wind turbines and the substations and allow for remote control of the wind turbines
locally or from a remote computer. This computerized supervisory control and data
acquisition network will provide detailed operating and performance information for each
wind turbine. The Permittee will maintain a computer program and database for tracking
each wind turbines maintenance history and energy production.
36.
Housed inside the fiberglass nacelle that sits on the top of the tower are the generator,
brake system, yaw drive system and other miscellaneous components, and the breakers to
disconnect the wind turbine generator are located at the control panel in the tower base.
37.
Each turbine will be accessible by a low profile gravel road extending from the turbine
base to a public road. The roads will be all weather gravel construction and
approximately 15 to 20 feet wide. To facilitate crane movement and equipment delivery,
additional temporary, gravel roadways will be installed on either side of the permanent
roadway. Temporary roads will be approximately 40 to 45 feet wide (Exhibit 1, p. 15).
Site Location, Topography and Characteristics
38.
The 78 MW Goodhue Wind Project will be located in Goodhue County, west of the city
of Goodhue and north of the city of Zumbrota. The project boundary encompasses
approximately 32,684 acres and includes portions of Belle Creek (sections 1-5, 8-17, 2029, 32-36); Goodhue (sections 17-19, 30 and 31); Minneola (sections 1-5, 8-17); Vasa
(sections 35 and 36), and Zumbrota (sections 4-6, 7-9, 16-18) Townships. The
topography within the site is relatively flat, but includes hills and ridges associated with
water drainage. Elevation varies from 929 to 1,243 feet above mean sea level. The
project area is predominantly rural and is zoned agricultural. Crops include corn,
soybeans, small grains and forages. Windbreaks are common around farmsteads;
willows, grasses, and sedges are found near streams and ditches.
7
39.
Construction of the turbine sites and access roads will involve temporary disturbances of
farmland on participating parcels. In addition, turbine assembly will require a gravel
crane pad area of approximately 40 by 120 feet extending from the access road to the
turbine foundation, and component lay down and rotor assembly will require an
approximately 260 to 335 foot area near each turbine foundation. The permanent
displacement of farmland for turbine access roads, towers, transformers and areas around
them is expected to be less than 50 acres (Exhibit 1, pages 17-18).
40.
Wind turbine and road access will be sited to take into account the contours of the land
and prime farmland locations to minimize impact. The project will be subject to the
requirements of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System/State Disposal
System (NPDES/SDS) Construction Stormwater Permit. An erosion and sediment
control plan and Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) will also be prepared
for the project and the disturbed areas will be seeded after construction to stabilize the
area.
Wind Resource Considerations
41.
Based on wind data collected onsite and other available long-term data sources, AWA
Goodhue’s consultant, Garrad Hassan, estimates that the 80 meter annual average wind
speeds in the project area range from 6.9 to 7.4 meters per second. Wind speeds are
generally greater in the night and early morning hours and decline at midday during most
seasons. In general, average wind speeds are higher during the winter and lower during
the summer. Based on onsite wind data collected by the Applicant, the prevailing wind
direction within the project boundary is out of the west/northwest and south to south
southeast.
42.
For this project, turbines will be sited in clusters so as to have good exposure to winds
from all directions with emphasis on exposure to the prevailing wind directions. Turbine
placement, aside from other resource features where setbacks or wind access buffers are
required, will be designed to maximize exposure to prevailing winds and provide
sufficient spacing between the turbines to minimize internal wake losses. Given the
prevalence for wind from the northwest, the turbine spacing is widest in this direction.
Greater or lesser spacing between the turbines or turbine strings may be used in areas
where the terrain dictates the spacing. This is addressed in the permit at Section 4.10.
Individual, isolated turbine sites may be necessary to minimize project impacts.
Sufficient spacing between the turbines is utilized to minimize wake losses when the
winds are blowing parallel to the turbines.
43.
The net annual energy production from the project, assuming various losses aggregating
to approximately 15 percent and assuming net capacity factors of 34 to 39 percent, will
range from approximately 230,000,000 MWh to 270,000,000 MWh per year. The base
energy calculation presented assumes a normal or average wind year.
8
Land Rights and Easement Agreements
44.
In order to build a wind project, a developer needs to secure site leases and easements or
option agreements to ensure access to the site for construction and operation of a
proposed project. These lease or easement agreements also prohibit landowners from any
activities that might interfere with the execution of the proposed project (Exhibit 1, p.
10).
45.
AWA Goodhue has obtained easement agreements and wind rights with more than 200
landowners for approximately 100 parcels of land totaling more than 12,000 acres of land
within the project site boundary necessary for installation of the components of the wind
project. Land rights leases and wind easements will encompass the proposed wind farm
and all associated facilities, including but not limited to wind and buffer easements, wind
turbines, turbine access roads, step-up transformers, collector and feeder lines, and two
permanent meteorological towers. The new 69 kV transmission line will be located on
private lands or public rights-of-way (Exhibit 1, p. 10).
Site Considerations
46.
Minnesota Statutes chapter 216F and Minnesota Rules chapter 7854 apply to the siting of
Large Wind Energy Conversion Systems (LWECS). The rules require an applicant to
provide a substantial amount of information to allow the Commission to determine the
potential environmental and human impacts of the proposed project and whether the
project is compatible with environmental preservation, sustainable development, and the
efficient use of resources. Pursuant to Minnesota Statutes section 216F.02, certain
sections in Minnesota Statutes chapter 216E (Minnesota Power Plant Siting Act) apply to
siting LWECS, including 216E.03, subd. 7 [Considerations in designating site and
routes]. The analysis of the environmental impacts required by Minnesota Rule
7854.0500, subpart 7, satisfies Minnesota’s environmental review requirements. The
following findings address the considerations relevant to a LWECS project.
Demographics and Human Settlement
47.
The project will be located in southeastern Minnesota near the cities of Goodhue and
Zumbrota, Minnesota, within a project area of approximately 32,684 acres. The
townships of Belle Creek, Goodhue, Minneola, Vasa, and Zumbrota are partially located
within the project boundary.
48.
The 2009 population estimate for Goodhue County is 45,836 and the combined
population for the five townships in the project area is 3,073, or roughly 7 percent of the
total county population. There has been a slight increase in population in the county from
2000-2009, approximately 4 percent. Three of the townships within the project boundary
have had slight population decreases of about 4 percent. Two townships (Belle Creek
and Vasa) had population increases comparable to the county average of 4 percent. Red
Wing is the largest urban area in the county and is where one third of the population (36.5
percent) resides.
9
49.
The project area has a relatively low population density, with an estimated 17 persons per
square mile. The city of Goodhue, near the eastern edge of the project area, has a
population of approximately 800. The city of Zumbrota, near the southern edge of the
project area, has a population of approximately 2,800. The largest city in Goodhue
County, Red Wing, has a population of approximately 16,200, and is located
approximately 15 miles northeast of the project area.
50.
Goodhue’s current site plan indicates that there are no residences within 1,000 feet of any
turbine. There are 5 residences within 1,000 to 1,500 feet, and 81 residences within
1,500 feet to one-half mile. Of the 86 residences within a half mile of the turbines, 29 are
project participants, 52 are non-participants. The site permit, sections 4.1, 4.2 and 4.4,
has conditions for setbacks from residences, roads and non-participating landowner’s
property lines. The proposed wind turbine layout will meet or exceed those
requirements. The proposed project is not expected to affect any water wells (used,
unused or unsealed). (Exhibit 1, p. 26-28).
51.
There will be no displacement of existing residences or structures in siting the wind
turbines and associated facilities.
Land Use and Zoning
52.
The Goodhue Wind Project will be located in an area that is zoned for agriculture.
Agriculture is an important economic sector in Goodhue County. According to the 2009
Goodhue Agricultural Profile, Goodhue County ranks in the top 10 counties in Minnesota
for dairy production, cattle, and sheep and lamb. It ranks 16th in total agricultural
production, with 45 percent in crops and 55 percent in livestock.
53.
The project is consistent with the Goodhue County Comprehensive Plan, adopted in
2004, specifically Element 1, goals 2-5, and Element 5, goal 1. Large wind energy
conversion systems have been identified in the comprehensive plan as a compatible land
use that complements and enhances existing agricultural infrastructure.
54.
In Element 1, Land Use, Urban Expansion and Growth Zones, retention of agricultural
land for agricultural uses is considered a high priority. The plan encourages cities to
recognize the surrounding agricultural needs in their comprehensive plans. The county’s
policy regarding lands outside city growth zones stipulates they “will be considered rural
and shall be managed to preserve the rural character and the continued operation of
agricultural uses, their inherent activities, and lifestyle.”
55.
In Element 5, Economic Development goals, policies related to agricultural industry
include ways to “preserve the land to support agricultural industry…and support the
development of innovative industrial agricultural uses such as ethanol production, wind
generation, buckwheat cleaning.”
56.
The project lies completely outside the city limits of any incorporated municipality and
outside any Urban Fringe District identified in the 2004 Goodhue County Zoning
Districts map.
10
57.
The project also lies outside the Low Density Residential/Urban Fringe/Agriculture land
use zone identified in the 2003 Future Land Use/Transportation Plan map developed as
part of the TH 52 Corridor Zumbrota Sub-area Land Use/Transportation Study. The city
of Zumbrota, Goodhue County and Minneola, Pine Island, Roscoe and Zumbrota
townships participated with Mn/DOT – District 6 in the study. It was prepared and
funded through the Mn/DOT Interregional Corridor Partnership Planning Studies grant
program which was established to encourage state and local cooperation in ensuring the
long-term performance of Minnesota’s Interregional corridor system.
58.
The cities of Goodhue and Zumbrota have each requested that no turbines be placed
within a two-mile buffer of each city’s municipal boundaries. Neither city has an
adopted comprehensive plan relating to future growth or expansion out two miles.
59.
In the proposed layout, no turbines will be sited within two miles of Goodhue; however,
the proposed layout includes four turbines located on private land within two miles of
Zumbrota. The closest turbine is approximately 1.50 miles from Zumbrota’s municipal
boundary (Exhibit 21, citing AWA Ex. 3).
60.
On June 14, 2010, Belle Creek Township enacted an interim ordinance establishing a
one-year moratorium on siting wind energy conversion systems within its township while
the Township Board considers adoption of an ordinance intended, presumably, to
regulate wind energy conversion system development within the township. On May 25,
2011, Belle Creek Township extended its moratorium.
61.
According to Minnesota Statutes section 216F.07, a site permit issued by the Commission
“supersedes and preempts all zoning, building, or land use rules, regulations, or
ordinances adopted by regional, county, local, and special purpose governments.” While
Minnesota Statutes section 216F.081 requires the Commission to consider and apply
more stringent standards adopted by a county unless it finds good cause not to, the Wind
Siting Act does not contain a similar provision related to standards adopted by a township
or municipalities.
62.
On October 5, 2010, Goodhue County amended its Wind Energy Conversion System
Ordinance with the intent of establishing more stringent standards for the Commission's
consideration. Issues relating to application of the county's standards were thoroughly
examined during the subsequent contested case proceeding conducted by Judge Sheehy
of the Office of Administrative Hearings.
63.
The Commission adopts the April 29, 2011, Administrative Law Judge's Findings of
Fact, Conclusions and Recommendations regarding Goodhue County’s standards and
whether there is good cause not to apply them for the AWA Goodhue Wind, LLC Large
Wind Energy Conversion System Project related to OAH Docket No. 3-2500-21662-2
and PUC Docket No. IP-6701/WS-08-1233.
11
Property Values
64.
A number of non-participating Goodhue County residents have expressed concern that
the existence of wind turbines in the area would negatively affect their property values.
(Exhibit 18, fn. 58). Impact to property values is often a concern to affected residents.
However, residents have not offered any specific evidence which supports such a claim.
The best evidence on the subject matter is the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory
study “The Impact of Wind Power Projects on Residential Property Values in the United
States” (Dec. 2009) study. That report shows an absence of negative impacts to property
values from wind farms within a project view shed. “A Study of Wind Energy
Conversion System in Minnesota,” prepared by the Stearns county, Minnesota,
Assessor’s Office (June 1, 2010) asked assessors from Dodge, Jackson, Lincoln, Martin,
Mower and Murray counties “if they have seen any changes on properties hosting a wind
energy conversion system and on properties adjacent to property with a tower located on
it.” Their responses noted that there were “no changes,” but also indicated that “The
collected data is insufficient to allow for a reasonable analysis of the effects of wind
energy development on land values.” Moreover, because it is difficult to determine what
effect the construction of the turbines will have on property values, some residents
suggested that the Permittee be required to purchase property value guaranty insurance
for non-participating property owners. (See, e.g., Exhibit 18, p.12-13). The Commission
has not required any other wind project in Minnesota to purchase such insurance and
finds no rationale for doing so here.
Public Health and Safety Setbacks
65.
Some non-participating landowners have requested that no turbines be located closer than
one-half mile from a residence. (See, e.g., Exhibit 18, fn. 45). The existing setback
included in the Commission’s Order Establishing General Wind Permit Standards is 500
feet from the nearest residence, plus any distance necessary to comply with the
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency noise standards (Minn. Rules, Chapter 7030).
66.
A one-half mile setback from the nearest residence would essentially eliminate every
proposed turbine site in the project. If adopted for other projects, a one-half mile setback
would also eliminate significant portions of agricultural land elsewhere in Minnesota
with viable wind resources, and thereby preclude landowners from developing wind
energy on their property. This would not be the best balance between the rights of
participating landowners and non-participating landowners and would not allow for the
efficient use of wind resources in the area and elsewhere in Minnesota.
67.
AWA Goodhue has agreed to site all turbines at least 1,500 feet away from the nearest
non-participating residence and at least 1,000 feet from participating residences (site
permit section 4.2). In addition, the Permittee will be required to site all turbines at
distances sufficient to meet the Minnesota Noise Standard found in Minnesota Rules
Chapter 7030 (site permit section 4.3).
68.
In addition, the site permit will require AWA Goodhue to set back its turbines a
minimum of five rotor diameters (1,355 feet) on prevailing wind directions from the
12
center of the wind turbine tower to the property boundary of all non-participating
landowners and three rotor diameters (813 feet) on non-prevailing wind directions (site
permit section 4.1). The site permit (section 4) also establishes other setback
requirements from roads and other features.
Aviation and National Security
69.
Although there are no public airports within the project boundary, there are several
airports in Goodhue County that have been registered with the Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MN DOT). The
nearest registered facilities are the two heliports for the Fairview Red Wing Medical
Center and Hospital located approximately 11.3 and 11.6 miles north and northeast,
respectively, of the project area. The next closest are the Stewart Farms Airport located
approximately 12.7 miles northwest, and the Red Wing Falls Regional Airport (RGK)
located approximately 14.7 miles northeast of the project area. The project does not
impact the safety zones of any of these airports.
70.
One recently-registered private use airstrip, the Stenlund airstrip, has also been identified
in Belle Creek Township. Section 4.12 of the site permit requires the Applicant to avoid
placing wind turbines or associated facilities in a location that could create an obstruction
to navigable airspace of licensed private airports as defined in rule.
71.
A few residents expressed concern that rotation of large numbers of turbine blades would
interfere with radar for military aircraft and air-traffic control, and present a national
security concern, particularly since the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Facility is
located in Goodhue County (Exhibit 18, fn. 28).
72.
Wind turbines may impact radar systems, e.g., radar used for aviation, if they are in the
radar line of sight. Impacts may include an impairment of the ability to detect and track
aircraft. Impacts can be mitigated by avoiding the placement of wind farms in radar lines
of sight. The U.S. Department of Defense is responsible for compatibility of wind farms
with military radar installations; the FAA is responsible for compatibility with
commercial aviation radar.
73.
Prior to construction, the project must provide notice to and complete evaluation by the
FAA and MN DOT. FAA review and evaluation also includes review on behalf of the
Department of Defense with the Air Force taking the lead on behalf of the Army and
Navy. Homeland Security review is another component of this review process. The
project will comply with the FAA requirements with respect to siting and lighting (site
permit sections 4.12 and 7.18).
13
Medical Helicopters and Emergency Response
74.
Some concern was expressed about the ability of emergency medical helicopters,
particularly those from the Mayo Clinic, to fly and land within the project area. (See, e.g.
Exhibit 18, fn. 30). There is no reason to conclude that the project poses any more risk to
medical helicopters than any other wind farm located in the state. Officials at Mayo
Clinic in Rochester have noted that impacts on helicopter operations due to wind projects
in the area have been insignificant. (Environmental Report, p. 43) (Exhibit 24).
75.
Wind turbines constructed as part of the project will be registered with the Goodhue
County emergency response management system, and AWA Goodhue will work with the
county emergency response to develop appropriate response procedures for emergencies,
natural hazards, hazardous materials incidents, manmade problems (e.g., fire) and related
incidents possibly affecting the project. AWA Goodhue will also work with the County
Planning and Zoning Office for assignment of 911 addresses for coordination of
emergency response. Project construction and operation is expected to have little impact
on the security and safety of local residents. As with any large construction project,
however, there is some risk of worker or public injury during construction. AWA
Goodhue and its construction representatives and workers will prepare and implement
work plans and specifications in accordance with applicable worker safety requirements
during project construction. AWA Goodhue will control public access to the project
during construction and operations and will also provide security during project
construction and operation, including fencing, warning signs, and locks on equipment and
facilities. The Permittee will also provide landowners, interested persons and public
officials and emergency responders with all applicable safety information (site permit
sections 7.15 and 7.16).
76.
Each turbine will be clearly labeled to identify each unit and a map of the site with the
labeling system will be provided to local authorities as part of the fire protection plan
(site permit section 7.17).
Ice Throw
77.
A number of residents expressed concern if large chunks of ice were allowed to build up
on turbine blades and were later thrown from the moving blades. (Exhibit 18, fn. 25). In
winter months, ice may accumulate on the turbine blades when the turbines are stopped
or operating very slowly. Furthermore, the anemometer may ice up at the same time,
causing the turbine to shut down during any icing event. As weather conditions change,
any ice will normally drop off the blades before the turbines resume operation. This is
due to flexing of the blades and the blades’ smooth surface. Although turbine icing is an
infrequent event (2.5 days per year), it remains important that the turbines not be sited in
areas where regular human activity is expected below the turbines during the winter
months, and no turbines here are proposed in such areas. The setback requirements in
section 4 of the site permit provide further assurance that the turbines will be placed an
adequate distance from residences, roads and other areas of human activity.
14
78.
The Department of Natural Resources suggested that the Permittee consult with the DNR
during final micro-siting of the turbines to determine how close the turbines will be to
existing snowmobile trails. While the record does not support the imposition of a setback
requirement from snowmobile trails, it is appropriate to expect the Permittee to take the
location of known snowmobile trails into account during the final siting of the turbines.
Stray Voltage and Electric and Magnetic Fields
79.
A number of residents raised concern about the possible effect of stray voltage on their
dairy operations. (Exhibit 18, fn. 41).
80.
Stray voltage (neutral to earth voltage, or NEV) is an extraneous voltage that appears on
grounded surfaces in buildings, barns and other structures. Stray voltage can be a
problem for hospitals, manufacturing plants and farms. In hospitals and manufacturing
plants, stray voltage may interfere with sensitive electronic equipment. On the farm, if
this voltage reaches sufficient levels, animals coming into contact with grounded surfaces
may receive a mild shock that can cause a behavioral response. In addition, stray voltage
may result from a damaged, corroded, or poorly connected wiring or damaged insulation
(contact voltage).
81.
A great deal of research on the effects of stray voltage (NEV) on dairy cows has been
conducted over the past 40 years. A comprehensive review of this research is presented
in a report to the Ontario Energy Board (Literature Review and Synthesis of Research
Findings on the Impact of Stray Voltage on Farm Operations, 2008, Prepared by Douglas
J. Reinemann, Ph.D.).
Stray voltage (NEV) and its impact on dairy farms is normally an issue associated with
electrical distribution lines and is a condition that can exist between the neutral wire of a
service entrance and grounded objects in buildings. NEV is not associated with
transmission lines. The source of stray voltage is a voltage that is developed on the
grounded neutral wiring network of a farm and/or the electric power distribution system.
The direct effect of animal contact with electrical voltage and the resulting current
flowing through their bodies can range from:
•
Mild behavioral reactions indicative of sensation, to
•
Involuntary muscle contraction (twitching), to
•
Intense behavioral responses indicative of pain.
The level of response will depend on the amount of electrical current (milliamps) flowing
through the animal’s body, the pathway it takes and the sensitivity of the animal.
The indirect effects of these behaviors can vary considerably depending on the specifics
of the contact location, level of current, pathway, frequency and other factors related to
15
the daily activities of the animals. There are several common scenarios of concern in the
animal’s environment:
•
Animals avoiding certain exposure locations which may result in reduced water
intake and reduced food intake,
•
Difficulty of moving or handling animals in areas of annoying voltage/current
exposure,
•
The release of stress hormones produced by contact with painful stimuli.
The vast majority of behavioral response thresholds observed occurs between current
levels of 3 milliamps to 8 milliamps. The severity of behavioral response has been
shown to increase as the exposure (current) is increased above the first response
threshold, with aversive behaviors occurring at levels about 1.5 to 1.6 times higher than
the mild behavioral response threshold.
Controlled research clearly indicates that while it is possible to cause physiological
changes in dairy cows as a result of electrical exposures, these responses occur at
exposure levels well above those that produce behavioral changes. The extensive field
data collected provides further confirmation of these experimental results.
Stray voltage (NEV) sources can be reduced in three fundamental ways:
•
reduce the current flow on the neutral system,
•
reduce the resistance of the neutral system, or
•
improve the grounding of the neutral system.
The quality of the farm wiring system has the largest single influence on voltage
exposure levels. Farm wiring has been shown to be a major contributor to voltage
sources on farms; making good electrical connections and making sure that these
connections are maintained by the proper choice of wiring materials for wet and
corrosive locations will reduce the resistance of the grounded neutral system and thereby
reduce neutral to earth voltage levels.
Additionally, the use of equipotential planes (A grid, sheet, mass, or masses of
conducting material which, when bonded together, offers a negligible impedance to
current flow) are part of the electrical code requirements in animal confinement areas.
Equipotential planes reduce exposures from both on-farm and off-farm sources of voltage
exposure.
82.
The electrical collection system proposed for the Goodhue LWECS is designed to be “a
separately derived system” as defined in the National Electric Code. The system will
have no direct electrical connection (including grounded circuit conductors) to
16
conductors originating in another system. The wind farm collection system will have its
own substation and transformers. (Exhibit 21, citing AWA 4).
83.
Because of the type of transformers used at each turbine and the design of the collection
system, there are no ground currents in the collection system, whether the system is
operating at zero generation or maximum generation. Therefore, under normal operating
conditions, the grounding for the wind farm collection system has no current with which
to create stray voltage. (Exhibit 21, citing AWA 4).
84.
Another form of stray voltage is induced or phantom voltages. Current flowing through a
wire will create a magnetic field around the wire. This will induce a voltage in any
electrically conductive material "within range" of that field. The closer the material is to
the source of the field (i.e., the current-carrying wire), the higher the induced voltage will
be. Transmission lines (alternate current or AC) can induce stray voltage on nearby
conductive objects. When the electric-magnetic field of a transmission line extends to a
nearby conductive object, a voltage is induced on the object. The magnitude of the
voltage depends on the objects ability to collect an electric charge (capacitance), shape,
size, orientation, location, object to ground resistance, and weather conditions. If a
voltage is induced on an object insulated from the ground and a person touches the
object, a small current would pass through their body to the ground. This current may
produce a spark discharge or mild shock to the individual. This type of stray voltage
(induced current) occurs most often on long fences and distribution lines built under
transmission. Most shocks from induced current are considered more of a nuisance than
a danger.
85.
The Goodhue LWECS project does envision connection to the grid via two 69 kV lines,
one existing and one new.
86.
To insure public safety, the National Electric Safety Code (NESC) requires induced
current of less than 5 milli Amperes (mA) for objects under transmission lines.
Noise
87.
By its design and siting of turbines for the Goodhue Wind Project, AWA Goodhue has
taken possible noise impacts to nearby rural residences and farmsteads into account.
Based on monitoring conducted by the Permittee at five locations throughout the project
area, the existing ambient noise levels in the area range from 33 dBA to 52 dBA on an
hourly LA50 and between 34 dBA and 60 dBA on an hourly LA10 basis. (Exhibit 21, citing
AWA Ex. 6). These background noise levels are typical of those in a rural setting, where
existing nighttime levels are commonly in the low to mid-30 dBA. The dBA scale
represents A-weighted decibels based on the range of human hearing. Higher levels of
background sound exist near roads and other areas of human activity.
88.
Wind turbines, when in motion, generate noise. The level of sound varies with the speed
of the turbine, the distance of the listener or receptor from the turbine and surface
characteristics of the site. Operation and maintenance of the wind turbines and associated
facilities will create increased noise levels.
17
89.
The increases in noise levels within the project area are expected to be minimal due to the
noise levels produced by the wind itself and the siting considerations adopted by AWA
Goodhue. Specifically, AWA Goodhue has incorporated a residence setback distance of
1,500 feet for non-participants and at least 1,000 feet for participants. Further, AWA
Goodhue has sited the 1.5 MW machines in locations nearest to residents and the 1.6
MW machines, which are slightly louder, at farther distances. (Exhibit 21, citing AWA
Ex. 6).
90.
AWA Goodhue evaluated the sound power level information provided by the
manufacturer of the GE 1.5 MW and 1.6 MW xle wind turbines to assess representative
noise levels for the project. The highest sound power level of 104.0 dB for the GE 1.5
MW xle and 106.0 dB for the GE 1.6 MW xle were used to calculate the maximum
expected noise levels and establish the setback distances required to meet the state’s most
stringent noise standard, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Nighttime L50
limit of 50 dBA for NAC1.
91.
An updated Wind Turbine Noise Assessment for the Goodhue Project, dated January 28,
2011, prepared by HDR, Inc., evaluated the project noise levels at 492 receptors within
and near the site.
92.
Several members of the public have contested the appropriateness of the Cadna-A model.
The Commission finds, however, that the Cadna-A model is based on internationally
accepted acoustical standards used to calculate outdoor noise and has been used to model
a variety of wind projects throughout the world, including many in Minnesota.
93.
Some commenter’s also testified that the state MPCA noise standards are inadequate to
protect public health. For example, a subcommittee of the Goodhue County Planning
Advisory Commission advocated for an outdoor nighttime standard of 40 dBA. (Exhibit
18, fn. 13). The MPCA’s noise standards, when enacted, were based on the present
knowledge for the preservation of public health and welfare. The standards are consistent
with speech, sleep, annoyance, and hearing conversation requirements for receivers
within areas grouped according to land activities. Based on current science, there is no
conclusive evidence that sound from wind turbines at levels consistent with or below
MPCA noise standards pose any risk to human health.
94.
The Applicant’s modeling shows that, at the setback distances of 1,500 feet for nonparticipants and 1,000 feet for participants, the project complies with the MPCA’s
Nighttime L50 limit of 50 dBA, its most stringent standard. Noise impacts to nearby
residents and other receptors have been factored into the turbine micrositing process, and
conditions in the site permit require the project to comply with the MPCA noise standards
(site permit sections 4.3 and 6.6).
18
Shadow Flicker
95.
Several residents have also raised concerns over the impacts of shadow flicker (Exhibit
18, fn. 22, 23). Shadow flicker is described as a moving shadow on the ground resulting
in alternating changes in light intensity. Shadow flicker computer models simulate the
path of the sun over the year and assess at regular time intervals the possible shadow
flicker across a project area. The models are useful in the design phase of a wind farm.
Shadow flicker usually occurs in the morning and evening hours when the sun is lower in
the horizon and the shadows are elongated. Shadow flicker does not occur when the
turbine rotor is oriented parallel to the receptor or when the turbine is not operating. In
addition, shadow flicker does not occur when the sun is obscured by clouds or other
obstacles already casting a shadow, such as buildings and trees.
96.
Shadow intensity, or how “light” or “dark” a shadow appears at a specific receptor, will
vary with the distance from the turbine. Closer to a turbine, the blades will block out a
larger portion of the sun’s rays and shadows will be wider and darker. Receptors farther
away from a turbine will experience much thinner and less distinct shadows since the
blades will not block out as much sunlight. Shadow flicker will be greatly reduced or
eliminated within a residence when buildings, trees, blinds or curtains are located
between the turbine and receptor. Consultants generally agree that flicker is not
noticeable beyond about 10 rotor diameters from a wind turbine. Evidence of health
effects from shadow flicker is scant, suggesting that it is more of a nuisance issue. There
are no published standards for shadow flicker and no examples of turbines causing
photosensitivity related problems, including in Minnesota. A few jurisdictions in other
countries have established guidelines for acceptable levels of shadow flicker based on
certain assumptions. In Germany, 30 hours of shadow flicker per year is acceptable. The
30 hour number is based on the premise that the sun is shining, the building affected is
occupied, the occupants are awake and the turbine is operating. The site permit does not
contain shadow flicker limits.
97.
AWA Goodhue considered the potential impact of shadow flicker when micrositing the
turbines in this project. Applicant Consultant HDR, Inc., prepared an updated wind
turbine Shadow Flicker Assessment of the Goodhue Wind Project, dated January 2011,
using the Wind Pro 2.6 software program. The assessment calculated shadow flicker
exposure for the 289 potential receptors within the project vicinity. (Exhibit 21, citing.
AWA Ex. 7). The model calculated the “actual expected shadow” based on the following
inputs: (1) location of the wind turbines and receptors; (2) the topography in the project
area; (3) the type of turbine used for the project (GE 1.5 MW and 1.6 MW xle turbines);
(4) sunshine probability statistics from the NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center; and
(5) wind direction. The “actual expected shadow” model also includes several
conservative assumptions, such as assuming the wind turbines operate 100 percent of the
time and that all receptors live in a “greenhouse,” meaning that a receptor’s view is never
obstructed from any direction by such things as walls, vegetation and other buildings.
Considering these assumptions, the maximum annual expected (cumulative) shadow
flicker hours at any non-participating receptor is 33 hours, 11 minutes, which is less than
1 percent of the total available annual sunlight hours. More than 96 percent of the 289
19
receptors are expected to experience fewer than 20 hours of shadow flicker per year. The
Applicant has strived to minimize flicker through its micro-siting efforts and will be
required to continue to do so. (site permit section 6.2.)
Visual Values
98.
The placement of up to 50 turbines as part of the Goodhue Wind Project will affect the
appearance of the area. The wind turbines will be mounted on 262.5 foot tubular towers.
The rotor blades will have a 271 foot diameter. The turbine towers and rotor blades will
be prominent features on the landscape. There will be intermittent views of the turbines
to passing motorists on State Highway 52 and local roads. Motorists and drivers on local
township and county roads may travel within 500 feet of some turbines.
99.
The visual impact of the wind turbines will be reduced by the use of a neutral paint color.
The only lights will be those required by the FAA. All site permits issued by the
Commission require the use of tubular towers; therefore, the turbine towers will be
uniform in appearance. Blades used in the proposed project will be white or grey. The
wind turbines in this project, while prominent on the landscape, also blend in with the
surrounding area. The project site will retain its rural character. The turbines and
associated facilities necessary to harvest the wind for energy are not inconsistent with
existing agricultural practices.
100.
From one perspective, the proposed project might be perceived as a visual intrusion on
the natural aesthetic value on the landscape, characterized by up to 50 tubular steel
structures approximately 262.5 feet high, standing on formerly undisturbed high-ground,
with 125 foot long blades, for an overall height of 397 feet or more when one blade is in
the vertical position. Wind farms have their own aesthetic quality, distinguishing them
from other non-agricultural uses. Existing wind farms have altered the landscape
elsewhere in Minnesota from agricultural to wind farm/agricultural. This project will
modify the visual character of the area.
101.
Visually, the Goodhue Wind Project will be similar to other LWECS projects located in
other parts of the state.
Recreational Resources
102.
Goodhue County has a number of scenic areas and recreational opportunities available to
the public. The county is rich in natural resources such as bluffs, streams and waterways,
which draw visitors from across the state. Approximately one-third of the county
consists of lands protected by state and federal agencies. Most of these lands exist within
the northern third of the county, and provide recreational opportunities such as hiking,
biking, boating, fishing, snowmobiling, golfing, cross-country skiing, hunting, and nature
viewing.
103.
Recreational resources identified within Goodhue County include the Mississippi River
Valley, Frontenac State Park, and the Richard J. Dorer Memorial State Forest, all of
which are outside the project area. Frontenac State Park is the nearest state park located
20
northeast of the project area along the southern edge of Lake Pepin and the Mississippi
River. The Richard J. Dorer Memorial State Forest is located directly north of the project
area, and occupies most of Welch, Vasa, Red Wing, Featherstone, Hay Creek, and
Florence townships. This state forest offers recreational opportunities to visitors such as
hiking and wildlife viewing.
104.
There are four DNR Scientific and Natural Areas (SNAs) in Goodhue County: River
Terrace Prairie SNA, North Fork Zumbro Woods SNA, Cannon River Turtle SNA, and
Spring Creek Prairie SNA. Three of the four are located north of the site, and the fourth
is located south and west of the site near Wanamingo. None of these SNAs is located
within the project area. There are no DNR Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs),
USFWS Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs), State Parks, or State Forests within the
project area.
105.
There are no county parks or state parks within or near the project area. There are only
two parks owned by the county and both are located on Lake Byllesby, more than 9 miles
from the western project boundary. Lake Byllesby was artificially created by damming
the Cannon River.
106.
There are no natural lakes within Goodhue County, but there are numerous drainages,
creeks and rivers. Drainages in the western half of the project area drain to Belle Creek
(outside of the project area) which becomes a designated trout stream approximately four
miles downstream. Hay Creek also becomes a designated trout stream approximately
two miles downstream of the project boundary.
107.
Goodhue County also has three existing regional recreational trails within its boundaries:
the Cannon Valley Trail, the Goodhue Pioneer Trail, and the Douglas State Trail. None
of these trails currently runs through the project boundary. The trail closest to any
turbines is the Pioneer Trail. The Department of Natural Resources has determined that
the turbines are appropriately sited, although the DNR has requested that the permit
language in Section 4.5, Public Lands, be modified to provide a 3 rotor diameter (RD) by
5 RD buffer to ensure a proper setback from state trails. Based on information provided
by the State Climatology Office, freezing rain or drizzle occurs about 2.5 days per year.
Based on the low number freezing rain and drizzle days in Minnesota, coupled with the
fact trails are unlikely to be used during inclement conditions, a 3 by 5 rotor diameter
setback from trails is not warranted.
108.
AWA Goodhue will design the project to avoid all direct impacts to recreational
resources. No turbines will be located on public lands. The only impact will be visual, as
users of the nearest recreational facilities will be able to see a small number of turbines
from certain vantage points within a one to four-mile radius of the project area.
Significant impacts are not anticipated.
Community Benefits
109.
The Goodhue Wind Project will pay a Wind Energy Production Tax to the county and
townships of several hundred thousand dollars per year. Landowners with turbine(s)
21
and/or wind or collection system easements on their property will also receive payments
from the Permittee.
110.
To the extent that local workers and local contractors are capable, qualified, and
available, AWA Goodhue will seek to hire them to construct the proposed project. The
hiring of local people will expand local employment opportunities. Once constructed, the
project will be staffed with several full-time site technicians and an operations manager.
111.
AWA Goodhue estimates the total construction economic benefit to be approximately $2
million to local contractors and suppliers. The Permittee further estimate the annual
benefit to area landowners and participants to be $1 million per year of operations.
(Exhibit 21, citing AWA Ex. 2).
Effects on Land-Based Economies
112.
The proposed project will permanently impact up to 50 acres of crop and pasture land for
siting the wind turbine structures, access roads and associated facilities. Construction
activities associated with the project (e.g., grading, soil compaction, access roads, turn
around areas and temporary construction staging areas) will also temporarily impact
agricultural lands. Overall, impact to agricultural lands as a result of the project is
anticipated to be short-term and is not expected to alter crop production. Once in
operation, it may be occasionally necessary for AWA Goodhue to complete repairs or
clear vegetation around a turbine or facility, which could result in additional temporary
impacts to agricultural operations. These interruptions are expected to be infrequent and
short term. (Exhibit 1, p. 54).
113.
Soil compaction is a temporary impact. The construction equipment used in the erection
of wind turbines, much like agricultural equipment, is designed with wide tires and tracks
to distribute weight over a large area. This minimizes the degree of soil compaction
resulting from construction. In areas with significant soil compaction, AWA Goodhue
will work with the landowner and negotiate appropriate corrective measures such as
tilling, chiseling or other methods.
114.
Drain tiles may be damaged or cut as a result of installing underground cable and tower
foundations. To minimize damage to drain tiles, drain tiles will be avoided where
possible. AWA Goodhue will develop and implement a drain tile mitigation plan. The
plan will address steps that will be taken to avoid, repair or replace drain tile that may be
impacted by the project (Exhibit 1, p. 55).
115.
Impacts on agricultural crops, livestock, native vegetation and landscaped areas are
anticipated to be minimal. Landowners will be reimbursed for potential damage incurred
to crops, livestock and property in a manner consistent with the terms of the wind lease
and easement agreement. Once the project is completed, AWA Goodhue will restore
vegetation within disturbed areas as close as practicable to its original condition. Sites
used for temporary storage, material staging and access areas typically experience
significant amounts of traffic; these sites will likely require tilling prior to seeding to
loosen compacted soils (Exhibit 1, p. 55).
22
116.
During the public hearing, Ms. Erin Logan inquired whether the project complied with
the Prime Farmland Exception in Minnesota Rules 7850.4400, subp. 4. (Exhibit 18, fn.
56). While that section of Minnesota Rules chapter 7850 does not apply to siting
LWECS (See Minnesota Statute section 216F.02), the project is not expected to have a
significant impact on prime farmland. The wind turbines and access roads will be located
so that the most productive farmland will be left as intact as possible. The project will
permanently displace approximately 50 acres of agricultural land. The site permit at
Sections 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, 7.5, 7.6, 7.7, 7.8.2, 7.9, 7.11, 7.12, 7.14 addresses mitigation
measures for agricultural lands.
117.
A township official questioned whether the project’s use of aggregate from local
suppliers would deplete the supply of aggregate available to local government agencies
for repair of roads. In response, AWA Goodhue stated that the project will use less than
one half of 1 percent of the supply available from one of the area’s five aggregate
suppliers. Based on this estimate, the proposed project does not adversely affect any sand
or gravel operations.
118.
The project does not adversely impact forestry or mining (Exhibit 1, p. 55).
Public Services and Infrastructure
119.
There are two known underground pipelines that cross the project area. One carries
petroleum and is owned by BP/Amoco and the other carries natural gas and is owned by
Magellan Pipeline Company LP. (Exhibit 1, p. 31). AWA Goodhue has incorporated a
setback of at least 150 feet from turbines to the center of the pipeline. AWA Goodhue
will also enter into encroachment agreements with the owners of the pipelines to establish
procedures and communications that minimize any potential impacts or safety concerns
regarding the pipeline. (Exhibit 21, citing AWA Ex. 3). Therefore, the project is not
expected to impact the pipelines.
120.
There are currently three utility transmission lines within the project area. Great River
Energy owns a 69 kV transmission line running across the southeast portion of the project
area. In addition, Xcel Energy owns a 345 kV transmission line running north to south
within the project area along the eastern boundary and a 69 kV transmission line running
parallel to U.S. Highway 52 in the southwester corner of the project area. A map of the
existing electric transmission lines is in the site permit application (Exhibit 1, Exhibit A3). The project will interconnect to the existing 69 kV transmission system in and near
the project area.
121.
Homes and farmsteads within the project area typically utilize onsite water wells and
septic systems for individual household and farming needs. (Exhibit 1, p. 31). The
project is not expected to impact wells and septic systems.
122.
Existing roadway infrastructure in and around the project area consists of state, county
and township roads that generally follow section lines, with private unpaved farmstead
driveways and farming access roads. The primary transportation arteries through the
23
project area include U.S. Highway 52, State Trunk Highway 58, County Roads 6, 9, 8
and 7 and local roads. According to MnDOT the average daily traffic (ADT) for U.S.
Hwy 52 is 18,100 vehicles. The ADT for STH 58 is 3,150 vehicles. Other roads within
the site average 375 to 1,750 vehicles per day (Exhibit 1, p. 32-33).
123.
The project will require the use of public roads to deliver construction supplies and
materials to the work site. Equipment and materials used in the erection of wind farms
are extremely heavy and can cause road damage. Weight-related impacts to roads
include physical damage to the structure of the road itself and/or damage to culverts and
bridges (site permit section 4.4). Road damages will be addressed by a “Development
Agreement” between AWA Goodhue and Goodhue County (Exhibit 21, citing AWA Ex.
1-B).)
124.
AWA Goodhue will work with all parties involved to address concerns related to
roadway use, and adhere to existing state, county and township requirements for
transportation infrastructure. AWA Goodhue entered into a comprehensive Development
Agreement, which includes a Road Use and Repair Agreement and addresses damage to
roadways and drainage systems. The agreement specifies the commitments made by
Goodhue County and the Permittee for the purpose of ensuring that the project is
consistent with the existing policies and ordinances of Goodhue County and the
participating townships to the extent they are not superseded or preempted by the
LWECS Permit.
125.
Prior to construction, AWA Goodhue will coordinate with the applicable local and state
entities to ensure that the weights being introduced to area roads are acceptable. AWA
Goodhue will work with the affected cities and townships, Goodhue County, and
MnDOT regarding roadway concerns, right-of-way work (if any), setbacks and access,
and permitting oversize loads during project construction. AWA Goodhue has worked
closely with the landowners in determining the placement of access roads to minimize
land-use disruptions during construction and operation of the project to the extent
possible.
126.
AWA Goodhue contracted with Comsearch to complete a microwave search interference
study on existing non-federal government microwave telecommunication systems,
including digital television broadcast systems. AWA Goodhue used the results of the
study and additional field location verification to inform its micrositing process. AWA
Goodhue has also filed a Form 7460-1 with the FAA for each turbine location. The
FAA’s evaluation will consider impacts of the turbine locations against known
communication towers and beam paths within the project area.
126.
Prior to construction, Gopher State One Call will be contacted to locate underground
facilities. To the extent project facilities cross or otherwise affect existing telephone lines
or equipment, AWA Goodhue will make arrangements with applicable service providers
to avoid interference with such facilities. At this time, no impacts are anticipated to
microwave or radio transmissions. AWA Goodhue will not operate the wind farm so as
to cause microwave, radio, telephone, television or navigation interference in violation of
FCC regulations or other applicable law. If operation of the project causes such
24
interference, AWA Goodhue will take the steps necessary to correct the problem (Exhibit
1, p. 36). (site permit Section 6.4).
127.
Individual turbines within the project will be connected through a system of underground
electrical collector lines located on private property and within public rights-of-way. The
electrical cables will be buried at a nominal 48 inches. SCADA cables will be placed in
the same trench. AWA Goodhue will also place red safety warning tape in the trench at a
depth of 18 or 24 inches. All underground installations will be registered with Gopher
One Call. Placement of collector and feeder lines is addressed in the site permit at
Section 4.15. The proposed collector system is expected to have a minimal effect on the
existing infrastructure.
128.
Sleepy Eye Telephone Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hector Communications,
and the telephone service provider in the project area expressed concern about the
potential for its telephone service being impacted by interference from overhead power
lines paralleling public rights-of-way where their copper cables are located. Hector
Communications asked the electrical noise and interference issue be addressed in the
final order issued by the Commission. In an October 4, 2010, memorandum to Goodhue
County staff, Goodhue Wind indicated that the GE 1.5 and 1.6 MW state-of-the art MW
wind turbine generators have full AC/DC/AC converters to eliminate electrical noise and
interference by electrically isolating the WTG from the grid. Goodhue Wind indicated
that road crossings will be made as necessary to mitigate interference and also plans to
install an optional electrostatic shield on the transformers between the high side/low side
windings which will eliminate any coupling due to capacitor resonance as a good practice
measure. Goodhue Wind also plans to be fully compliant with MISO/FERC/Xcel/GRE
Good Electric Industry practice which includes IEEE 519 and 820 compliance standard
and will also conduct a detailed harmonic analysis to eliminate any coupling due to
harmonics above the 14th harmonic. Interference is also addressed in the site permit at
Section 4.15.
129.
Construction of the project requires the addition of approximately 15 miles of access
roads that will be located on private property. Turbine access roads will be located in
consultation with local landowners to minimize disturbance to agricultural activities
where possible. Following construction, the typical access road will be approximately 16
feet in width and be covered in Class 5 gravel (or similar material). The access roads will
be low profile roads to allow for the movement of agricultural equipment. This issue is
addressed in the site permit at Section 7.8.2. During operation and maintenance of the
wind plant, operation and maintenance crews, while inspecting and servicing the wind
turbines, will use access roads. Periodic grading and maintenance activities will be used
to maintain road integrity. The Permittee may do this work or contract it out.
130.
If access roads are installed across streams or drainage ways, the Permittee in
consultation with the DNR will design, shape and locate the road so as not to alter the
original water flow or drainage patterns. Any work required below the ordinary high
water line, such as road crossings or culvert installation, will require a DNR permit (site
permit section 4.6).
25
Construction, operation, and maintenance of the proposed wind plant will comply with all
of the required federal and state permit requirements (site permit section 10.5).
Archaeological and Historical Resources
131.
A review of the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and Office of the
State Archaeologist (OSA) computer database indicated that 12 archaeological sites and
73 historic architectural properties are located within the project area and a one-mile
buffer surrounding the project area. A list of these documented cultural resource
properties is included in Exhibit 1, p. 37-39.
132.
In response to a recommendation from SHPO and in conformance with site permit
(Section 6.3), AWA Goodhue completed a Phase I Archaeological Reconnaissance
Survey to determine if previously unrecorded archaeological sites were located within the
project area. The Phase I survey involved a pedestrian survey and shovel testing. A total
of six archaeological sites were identified as a result of the investigation. (Ex. 1, p 3741).
133.
Of the six archaeological sites identified during the Phase I survey, four are historical
artifact scatter with no structural evidence and two are prehistoric isolated find spots
consisting of tertiary quartz flake. AWA Goodhue submitted the identified sites to
SHPO, but none are expected to exhibit the integrity and significance necessary to be
eligible for placement on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). If such sites
are found to be eligible for the NRHP, appropriate mitigative measures will need to be
developed in consultation with the SHPO, the OSA and Native American communities.
The site permit (Section 6.3) also requires the Permittee to stop work and notify the
Minnesota Historical Society and Commission if any unrecorded cultural resources are
found during construction.
Air and Water Emissions
134.
No harmful air or water emissions are expected from the construction and operation of
the LWECS.
26
Animals and Wildlife
135.
The majority of the project area (more than 72 percent) is used for agriculture. There are
no DNR WMAs, SNAs, WPAs, State Parks or State Forests within the project area
(Exhibit 1, p. 42). The project will have direct and indirect impacts on birds, bats, and
other wildlife resources and their habitats. Direct impacts may include strike fatality
from turbine blades, power lines, and related infrastructure. Indirect impacts may include
displacement of birds and bats and other wildlife from their habitats, site avoidance, and
behavioral modification (National Wind Coordinating Committee, spring 2010).
136.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has developed Draft Guidelines
for Wind Turbine Siting (2010) in collaboration with the Wind Turbine Guidelines
Advisory Committee. The Guidelines are intended to provide wind developers and
regulatory agencies with the information needed to identify, assess, and monitor the
potentially adverse impacts of wind energy projects on wildlife and their habitats,
particularly migratory birds and bats. The guidelines focus on a tiered approach to
gathering information on a site and potential risks to wildlife and wildlife habitat
Depending on the results obtained from each tier, pre-and/or post-construction survey
work is indicated along with associated mitigative measures.
137.
Recent studies indicate a range in avian and bat fatalities across the United States as a
result of wind development, with the highest fatalities occurring in the eastern United
States. In the Midwest, post-construction studies completed in Iowa, Minnesota, and
Wisconsin exhibit a wide range of fatality rates. The highest bird and bat fatalities were
found at the 145 MW Blue Sky Green Field wind facility in Wisconsin, with bird
fatalities at 12 birds/turbine/year and bat fatalities at 40 bats/turbine /year (Gruver et al.
2009). Fatalities range from 1 to 4 birds/turbine/year and from 1 to 8 bats/turbine/year
across most of the upper Midwest. Avian and bat studies conducted at the Buffalo Ridge,
Minnesota (Johnson et al 2000), found an average of 1-4 bird fatalities/turbine/year and
1-3 bat fatalities/turbine/yr. Projects in areas with similar habitat and cover types would
likely have similar fatality rates, depending on migration patterns, known resting and
foraging areas, and potential for bat hibernacula. However, as wind facilities and
turbines increase and move into areas or landscapes where migration or use patterns are
less understood, it becomes increasingly difficult to make landscape level comparisons
between facilities and predict the impacts on avian and bat populations.
138.
AWA Goodhue completed desktop avian and bat risk assessment to identify species of
concern and assist in the development of field survey protocols focusing on those species.
The assessment concluded that there are no federally listed birds or bats breeding records
within Goodhue County. Goodhue County includes nine state-listed threatened,
endangered or special concerns avian and bat species (Exhibit 1, p. 63-67). AWA
Goodhue then conducted a Loggerhead Shrike Habitat Survey and Pre-Construction
Spring Migration Survey to observe avian species present within the projected area.
These assessments satisfy Tiers 1 and 2 and portions of Tier 3 of the USFWS Draft
Guidelines for Wind Turbine Siting.
139.
Some of the major findings from the 2010 Pre-Construction Spring Migration Survey are:
27
a. Three bald eagle nests exist at distances of 0.25, 1.0 and 3.5 miles from the
project area. No eagles’ nests exist within the project area. No eagle flight paths
were observed through the project area, and the project area contains little riparian
habitat suitable for bald eagles.
b. Passerines (songbirds) accounted for 88 percent of the individual birds observed.
Most passerines were generalist species that are adapted to the agricultural
landscape. Waterfowl and waterbirds were notably scarce in the avian
community, presumably due to the lack of suitable migration stopover and
breeding habitat.
c. Eight active raptor nests of two different species, Red-tailed Hawk and Great
Horned Owl, were recorded in the project area. Most turbines are sited more than
0.25 miles from raptor nests.
d. The risk of avian fatality has been minimized through project design strategies
that minimize effects on avian habitats such as woodland, grassland and pasture
(Exhibit 25).
Eagles
140.
On June 3, 2011, EFP requested additional information from the Applicant regarding bald
and golden eagle activity in the project area. Citizen reports of 12 eagle nests were
received on May 3 and June 1, 2011, by Applicants and state and federal agencies. Bald
and Golden Eagles are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and
afforded additional protection under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
141.
Westwood wildlife biologists, consultants for the applicant, investigated these locations
on June 6 and June 8, 2011. Of the 12 nesting locations, five documented active bald
eagle nests were observed; three were previously known and documented and two were
new since 2010. The other reported nests were determined to be sites that were already
documented, new nests since 2010 that have been abandoned, or were duplicate
locations. The recent field verifications concluded an additional 22 hours of survey
work.
142.
On June 9, 2011, Applicants, USFWS, DNR and DOC Energy Facilities Siting staff held
a conference call to determine the scope and duration of ongoing bald eagle monitoring
activities. Future monitoring efforts will be shifted to turbine cluster locations near
known nests to document eagle movements in these areas. Westwood is developing
survey protocol that will identify proposed point count locations, suggested count
duration and number of survey visits. Multiple point count visits would be conducted
over the next month to cover the remainder of the 2011 nesting season (eaglets are
expected to fledge by mid-July). Additional point counts would be conducted in the fall
of 2011 and the winter of 2011-12. Details of this plan will be included in AWA
Goodhue’s Avian and Bat Protection Plan.
143.
Citizen reports also suggested the presence of Golden Eagles in the project area.
Westwood verified that two Golden eagles with radio transmitters were in Minnesota and
Southwestern Wisconsin in the winter months. The movement of these birds is tracked by
28
the National Eagle Center and the Minnesota Audubon Society. One of the birds was
found to have made forays into Goodhue County, but no nests or sightings were seen.
Westwood will continue to monitor for the presence of Golden Eagles as part of the
monitoring efforts for Bald Eagles (site permit section 13.1.1).
Bats
144.
Applicants conducted a desktop avian and bat risk assessment and determined that (1)
bats found in the project area are common species and (2) fatalities would likely range
from 1-2 bats/turbine/year.
145.
In a June 2, 2011, letter from the USFWS, it was noted that the Northern long-eared bat
(Myotis septentrionalis) is under consideration for listing, thus affording the species
protection under the Endangered Species Act. Northern-long eared bats have been
documented within five miles of the project boundary. Due to the change in status of this
species, the USFWS is recommending the installation of anabat detectors for collecting
site specific data regarding bat activity and species composition within the project area.
Monitoring of bats will be included in AWA Goodhue’s Avian and Bat Protection Plan
(site permit section 13.1.2).
146.
AWA Goodhue’s Avian and Bat Protection Plan will address strategies, based on the
survey results, for mitigating impacts to bats (site permit section 6.7).
Loggerhead Shrike
147.
Some of the major findings from the Loggerhead Shrike Habitat Survey are:
a. Nearly half of the project area is unsuitable for shrike breeding. Highly suitable
and very highly suitable breeding habitat is widely dispersed through the project
area.
b. Two separate loggerhead shrikes were observed in suitable habitat within the
project area.
148.
On August 5, 2010, the DNR sent a comment letter to Judge Lipmann suggesting, among
other things, that the Permittee share the results of its Loggerhead Shrike Habitat
Assessment and the Pre-Construction Avian Spring Migration Survey with DNR and
USFWS and consult with the agencies regarding turbine placement based on the results
of those surveys (site permit Section 6.7). (Exhibit 18, p.8).
149.
Suitable habitat for the state-listed threatened Loggerhead Shrike occurs within the
project area. Letters from DNR from October 2010 and June 2011, indicate a need to
consider shrike habitat when siting turbines to avoid and minimize impacts.
150.
Based on the preliminary turbine layout, five turbines are located in quarter sections
identified by the Goodhue Wind Project Loggerhead Shrike Habitat Assessment (July 19,
2010) as Very Highly Suitable habitat for Loggerhead Shrike. Six alternate turbine
locations in the preliminary turbine layout are in quarter sections ranked as Unsuitable,
Slightly More Suitable, and Moderately Suitable habitat for Loggerhead Shrike.
29
151.
Subsequent review of aerial photography and field visits conducted by AWA Goodhue,
DNR and USFWS, revealed that three of the five turbine locations identified in the July
2010 Loggerhead Shrike Habitat Assessment as Highly Suitable or Very Highly Suitable
were in fact not of concern because they were located in croplands or other less suitable
habitat within the identified quarter sections. AWA Goodhue’s Avian and Bat Protection
Plan will address mitigation strategies at the two remaining sites (site permit section
6.7.3). (Exhibit 23).
Vegetation
152.
No public waters, wetlands or forested land are expected to be adversely affected by the
project. No groves of trees or shelterbelts will need to be removed to construct and
operate the system. It is anticipated that native prairie will also be avoided. If native
prairie cannot be avoided, the site permit, at section 4.7, provides for preparation of a
prairie protection and management plan.
Soils
153. Construction of the wind turbines and access roads in farmland increases the potential for
erosion during construction. The site permit (section 7.11) requires a soil erosion and
sediment control plan. The project will also require a storm water run-off permit from
the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Surface Water and Wetlands
154.
Access roads and utility lines will not be located in surface water or wetlands, unless
authorized by the appropriate permitting agency (site permit section 4.6).
Future Development and Expansion
155.
Current information suggests windy areas in this part of the state are large enough to
accommodate more wind facilities. In the future, wind turbines used in Goodhue County
and surrounding counties will consist of several types and sizes supplied by different
vendors and installed at different times.
156.
While large-scale projects have occurred elsewhere (Texas, Iowa and California), little
systematic study of the cumulative impact has occurred. Research on the total impact of
many different projects in one area has not occurred. EFP staff will continue to monitor
for impacts and issues related to wind energy development.
157.
The Commission anticipates more site permit applications under Minnesota Statutes
section 216F.04 (a). The Commission is responsible for siting of LWECS “in an orderly
manner compatible with environmental preservation, sustainable development, and the
efficient use of resources.” Minnesota Statutes section 216F.03.
30
158.
Minnesota Statutes section 216E.03, subd 7 requires consideration of design options that
might minimize adverse environmental impacts. By a combination of 1.5 MW and 1.6
MW turbines in the Project, two fewer turbines are required, reducing siting needs for
turbines and related facilities. Turbines must also be designed to minimize noise and
aesthetic impacts. Buffers between strings of turbines are designed to protect the
turbines’ production potential. The site permit (Section 4.1) also provides for buffers
between adjacent wind generation projects to protect energy production potential.
Efficient Use of Wind Resources
159.
The location and spacing of the turbines are critical to the issues of orderly development
and the efficient use of wind resources. Turbines are likely to be located in the best
winds, and spacing dictates, among other factors, how much land area the project
occupies. There is strong public support for orderly development.
160.
One efficiency issue is the loss of wind in the wake of turbines. When wind is converted
to rotational energy by the blades of a wind turbine, energy is extracted from the wind.
Consequently, the wind flow behind the turbine is not as fast and is more turbulent than
the free-flowing wind. This condition persists for some distance behind the turbine as
normal wind flow is gradually restored. If a turbine is spaced too close downwind of
another, it produces less energy and is less cost-effective. This is the wake loss effect. If
the spacing is too far, wind resources are wasted and the projects footprint on the land is
unnecessarily large.
161.
For this project, turbine spacing maximizes use of the available wind resources and
minimizes wake and array losses within the topographical context of the site. Site
topography, natural resource features, setbacks and wind resources played a key role in
micrositing the turbines. The objective is to capture the most net energy possible from
the best available wind resource. Allowing for setbacks from roads and residences and
avoiding sensitive areas, AWA Goodhue arrived at a nominal turbine spacing of 3 rotor
diameters in the non-prevailing wind directions and five or more rotor diameters in the
prevailing wind directions, west-northwest direction, with respect to the predominant
energy production directions. Given the prevalence for northwesterly winds, the spacing
between turbines will be greater in that direction.
162.
Other factors that lead to energy production discounts include turbine availability, blade
soiling, icing, high wind hysteresis, cold weather shutdown, electrical efficiency and
parasitic.
Maintenance
163.
Maintenance of the turbines will be on a scheduled, rotating basis through the life of the
project. Maintenance on the transformer and 69 kV transmission line will be scheduled
for low wind periods. The project will be staffed with several wind technicians and an
operations manager. An operations and maintenance facility will also be built within the
project boundary.
31
Decommissioning and Restoration
164.
AWA Goodhue expects that the life of the project will be no less than 25 years. AWA
Goodhue reserves the right to re-apply for a LWECS site permit and continue operation
of the project after the 30-year permit period expires. (Exhibit 1, p. 21).
165.
Decommissioning activities will include removal of all above-ground facilities including
towers, turbine generators, transformers, overhead cables, buildings, and ancillary
equipment. Foundations and below ground facilities will be removed to a depth of four
feet below grade. All access roads will be removed unless the affected landowner
provides written notice that the road or portion of the road shall be retained. (Exhibit 1,
pp. 22-23). The site permit (section 9.1) requires the Permittee to submit a
Decommissioning Plan to the Commission prior to commercial operation. The site
permit (section 9.2) addresses site restoration and section 9.3 addresses turbines
abandoned prior to termination of operation of the LWECS.
Site Permit Conditions
167.
All of the above findings pertain to the Applicant’s requested permit for a 78 megawatt
wind project.
168.
Most of the conditions contained in this site permit were established as part of the site
permit proceedings of other wind turbine projects permitted by the Environmental
Quality Board and the Public Utilities Commission. Comments received by the
Commission have been considered in development of the site permit. Permit language
changes and additions that provide for clarification and supplemental conditions to the
site permit conditions have been made consistent with these findings.
169.
The site permit contains conditions that apply to site preparation, construction, cleanup,
restoration, operation, maintenance, abandonment, decommissioning and all other aspects
of the Goodhue Wind Project.
Based on the foregoing findings, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission makes the
following:
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
1.
Any of the foregoing findings, which more properly should be designated as conclusions
are hereby adopted as such.
2.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant
Minnesota Statute section 216F.04.
3.
The Applicant has substantially complied with the procedural requirements of Minnesota
Statutes chapter 216F and Minnesota Rules chapter 7854.
32
4.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has complied with all procedural
requirements required by of Minnesota Statutes Chapter 216F and Minnesota Rules
Chapter 7854.
5.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has considered all the pertinent factors
relative to its determination of whether a site permit should be approved.
6.
The AWA Goodhue Wind Project is compatible with the policy of the state to site
LWECS in an orderly manner compatible with environmental preservation, sustainable
development and the efficient use of resources under Minnesota Statutes section 216F.03.
7.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has the authority under Minnesota Statutes
section 216F.04 to place conditions in a permit and may deny, modify, suspend or revoke
a permit. The conditions in the site permit are reasonable and appropriate.
Based on the foregoing Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, the Minnesota Public Utilities
Commission issues the following:
ORDER
A LWECS Site Permit is hereby issued to AWA Goodhue, LLC to construct and operate the 78
megawatt AWA Goodhue Wind Project and associated facilities in Goodhue County in
accordance with the conditions contained in the site permit and in compliance with the
requirements of Minnesota Statute 216F.04 and Minnesota Rules Chapter 7854 for PUC Docket
No. IP-6701/WS-08-1233.
The site permit is attached hereto, with a map showing the approved site.
BY THE ORDER OF THE COMMISSION
________________________________
Burl W. Haar
Executive Secretary
This document can be made available in alternative formats (i.e., large print or audio tape) by
calling 651.297.0391 (Voice). Persons with hearing or speech disabilities may call us through
Minnesota Relay at 1.800.627.3529 or by dialing 711.
33
BEFORE THE MINNESOTA PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION
Ellen Anderson
David C. Boyd
J. Dennis O’Brien
Phyllis A. Reha
Betsy Wergin
Chair
Commissioner
Commissioner
Commissioner
Commissioner
In the Matter of AWA Goodhue Wind, LLC’s
Application for a Certificate of Need for a
78 MW Wind Project and Associated Facilities
in Goodhue County
ISSUE DATE: August 23, 2011
DOCKET NO. IP-6701/CN-09-1186
ORDER GRANTING CERTIFICATE OF
NEED
PROCEDURAL HISTORY
I.
Petition for Certificate of Need
On October 15, 2009, AWA Goodhue, LLC (AWA Goodhue or the Applicant) filed a certificate of
need application for the Goodhue Wind Project (the Project).
On December 30, 2009, the Commission issued an Order accepting the application as complete
and authorizing an informal review process.
On February 12, 2010, the Department of Commerce (the Department) filed comments on the
merits of the certificate of need application. The Department recommended that the Commission
issue a certificate of need if the Commission determines that the Project is a community-based
energy development (C-BED) project under Minn. Stat. § 216B.1612, subd. 2.
On March 4, 2010, an evening meeting was held in Mazeppa to receive comments on the scope of
the Environmental Report and issues to be considered in developing the draft site permit.
On April 28, 2010, the Commission approved two power purchase agreements between Xcel
Energy (Xcel) and the Applicant for purchase of the Project’s total output of 78 MW and
determined that the Project meets the statutory definition of a C-BED project under Minn. Stat.
§ 216B.1612, subd. 2. 1
1
See Order Approving Power Purchase Agreements, Approving Contract Amendments, and Requiring
Further Filings in Docket Nos. E-002/M-09-1349 and E-002/M-09-1350.
1
Between July 21 and 22, 2010, four public hearings were held at the Goodhue High School in the
City of Goodhue. Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Eric L. Lipman presided over the hearings and
submitted his Summary of Public Testimony on September 7, 2010.
II.
Environmental Report
On May 27, 2010, under Minn. Rules, part 7849.1400, subp. 7, the Department issued a scoping
decision determining alternatives and items to be addressed in the Environmental Report regarding
the Project and the schedule for completion of the Environmental Report.
On June 29, 2010, the Department’s Energy Facilities Permitting (EFP) staff issued the
Environmental Report on the Project.
The Commission met to consider the matter on June 30, 2011.
FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS
I.
Proposed Project
The Project is also a large energy facility under Minn. Stat. § 216B.2421. The Project is a large
wind energy conversion system (LWECS), as defined in the Wind Siting Act, Minn.
§ 216F.01-216F.07.
The Applicant has requested a certificate of need for a 78 megawatt (MW) LWECS. The Project
will consist of 50 General Electric 1.5 MW xle and 1.6 MW xle wind generators mounted on
262-foot towers with a rotor diameter of 271 feet. The overall height of the tower, nacelle, and
blade will be approximately 397 feet. The Project includes buried collection cables, associated
access roads, an Operation and Maintenance building, two project substations, and connection to
an existing 69 kV transmission line near the existing Goodhue Substation.
The Project will be located in southeastern Goodhue County on agricultural land west of the City
of Goodhue and north of the City of Zumbrota. The Project boundary encompasses approximately
32,684 acres and includes portions of the following townships: Belle Creek, Minneola, Vasa,
Goodhue, and Zumbrota.
In addition, Xcel Energy has entered into purchase power agreements with AWA Goodhue for the
purchase of the Project’s total output of 78 MW.2 Those agreements were approved under the
C-BED 3 statute 4, which operates in conjunction with other state policy initiatives encouraging
renewable generation, including the Renewable Energy Standards (RES), contained in Minn. Stat.
§216B.1691.
2
The Commission approved those agreements on April 28, 2010 in Docket Nos. E-002/M-09-1349 and
E-002/M-09-1350.
3
C-BED means community-based energy development under Minn. Stat. § 216B.1612.
4
Minn. Stat. § 216B.1612.
2
II.
The Legal Standard for a Certificate of Need
A.
The Initial Certificate of Need Statutory Factors
As initially enacted, the certificate of need statute identified eight factors for the Commission to
consider in evaluating the need for a proposed large energy facility 5 and directed the Commission
to “adopt assessment of need criteria to be used in the determination of need for large energy
facilities pursuant to this section.” 6
The statute also prohibited the Commission from granting any certificate of need unless the
applicant demonstrated that the need for electricity cannot be met more cost effectively through
energy conservation and load-management measures.
B.
The Rules
In 1983, the Commission, in compliance with its statutory obligation to establish assessment of
need criteria, adopted the certificate of need rules, Minnesota Rules, Chapter 7849. One of those
rules, Minn. Rules, pt. 7849.0120, addressed the eight factors identified in the statute and directed
the Commission to issue a certificate of need when the applicant demonstrates:
(A) the probable result of denial would be an adverse effect upon the future adequacy, reliability,
or efficiency of energy supply to the applicant, to the applicant’s customers, or to the people of
Minnesota and neighboring states;
(B) a more reasonable and prudent alternative to the proposed facility has not been demonstrated
by a preponderance of the evidence on the record;
(C) by a preponderance of the evidence on the record, the proposed facility, or a suitable
modification of the facility, will provide benefits to society in a manner compatible with protecting
the natural and socioeconomic environments, including human health; and
(D) the record does not demonstrate that the design, construction, or operation of the proposed
facility, or a suitable modification of the facility, will fail to comply with relevant policies, rules,
and regulations of other state and federal agencies and local governments.
C.
Additional Statutory Requirements
Subsequent to the adoption of the rules, Minn. Stat. § 216B.243 was amended to add four
additional factors for the Commission to evaluate in assessing need:
•
with respect to a high-voltage transmission line, the benefits of enhanced regional
reliability, access, or deliverability to the extent these factors improve the robustness of the
transmission system or lower costs for electric consumers in Minnesota; 7
5
Minn. Stat. § 216B.243, subd. 3.
6
Minn. Stat. § 216B.243, subd. 1.
7
Minn. Stat. § 216B.243, subd. 3 (9).
3
•
whether the applicant or applicants are in compliance with applicable provision of sections
216B.1691 and 216B.2425, subdivision 7, and have filed or will file by a date certain
application for certificate of need under this section or for certification as a priority electric
transmission project under section 216B.2425 for any transmission facilities or upgrades
identified under section 216B.2425, subdivision 7. 8
•
whether the applicant has made the demonstrations required under subdivision 3a 9; and if
the applicant is proposing a nonrenewable generating plant, the applicant’s assessment of
the risk of environmental costs and regulation on that proposed facility over the expected
useful life of the plant, including a proposed means of allocating costs associated with that
risk. 10
The statute was also amended after the rules were adopted to prohibit the Commission from
granting a certificate of need for any large energy facility that transmits electric power generated
by means of a nonrenewable energy source unless the applicant demonstrates that it has explored
using renewable resources and that the total costs of the project it proposes, including
environmental costs, are lower than the cost of using renewables. 11
III.
The Department’s Comments Regarding AWA Goodhue’s Application for a
Certificate of Need
In its comments filed February 12, 2010, the Department examined AWA Goodhue’s application
for a certificate of need with respect to criteria established in statute and rule and explained why it
believed the Company’s application met those criteria. An itemization of the criteria addressed and
the Department’s recommendations regarding them follows:
8
Minn. Stat. § 216B.243, subd. 3 (10).
9
Minn. Stat. § 216B.243, subd. 3 (11). Minn. Stat. § 216B.243, subd. 3a states: Use of renewable resource.
The commission may not issue a certificate of need under this section for a large energy facility that
generates electric power by means of a nonrenewable energy source, or that transmits electric power
generated by means of a nonrenewable energy source, unless the applicant for the certificate has
demonstrated to the commission’s satisfaction that it has explored the possibility of generating power by
means of renewable energy sources and has demonstrated that the alternative selected is less expensive
(including environmental costs) than power generated by a renewable energy source. For this subdivision,
“renewable energy source” includes hydro, wind, solar, and geothermal energy and the use of trees or other
vegetation as fuel.
10
Minn. Stat. § 216B.243, subd. 3 (12).
11
Minn. Stat. § 216B.243, subd. 3a.
4
Statutory Criteria:
Minn. Stat. § 216B.43
Where Addressed
in the
Department’s
February 12, 2010
Comments
The Department’s Statement
216B.243, subd. 3 (9)
II.A.2
The Department determined that this statute does not apply because the
application is not for a transmission line; however, the addition of
generation resource should enhance the ability to meet energy needs.
216B.243, subd. 3a and
216B.2422, subd. 4
II.B.2
The Department stated that Minnesota statutes state a clear preference
for renewable facilities; the proposed facility meets that preference.
216B.243, subd. 3 and
216B.243, subd. 3 (8)
II.B.3
The Demand Side Management requirement has been met.
216B.2426
II.C.3
Xcel considered distributed generation in its bidding process and
therefore this requirement has been met; review of that consideration
was completed in Dockets E-002/M-09-1349 and E-002/M-09-1350.
216B.1694, subd. 2 (a) (5)
II.C.4
This statute does not apply because the proposed facility is not a
fossil-fuel-fired generation facility.
II.E.3.a
The proposed Project is intended to help Xcel comply with the RES;
therefore this requirement has been met.
216B.243, subd. 3 (12)
II.E.4
The proposed facility is a renewable generation facility; therefore this
statute does not apply.
216B.243, subd. 3 (10);
compliance with
216B.2425, subd. 7
II.E.5
Xcel’s biennial transmission plan filed in November 2009 included a
transmission expansion scenario to meet the RES. The expansion plan is
sufficient through the 2020 milestone; and therefore this requirement
has been met.
216H.03, subd. 1 & 3
II.E.6
The proposed facility is a wind farm and since wind farms do not
contribute to statewide power sector carbon dioxide emissions, this
requirement has been met.
216B.243, subd. 3 (10)
Compliance with
216B.1691
In addition, the Department addressed the criteria established in Minn. Rules, Part 7849.0120,
Subparts A-D, which effectively cover the criteria established in Minn. Stat. § 216B.2423, subd. 3,
(1) to (8). The specific subcriteria considered in the Department’s comments are as follows:
5
Regulatory Criteria:
Minn. Rules, part
7849.0120
Where Addressed
in the
Department’s
February 12, 2010
Comments
The Department’s Statement
7849.0120 A(1)
II.A.1.a
Since Xcel has a PPA with the Applicant, the Department analyzed Xcel’s
forecast and determined that this requirement has been met.
7849.0120 A(2)
II.B.3
In addition to meeting Demand Side Management requirements,
additional capacity and renewable energy are required by Xcel’s system;
the Department therefore determined that this requirement has been met.
7849.0120 A(3)
II.E.2
The Department stated that this requirement has been met; the
Commission granted the Applicant an exemption.
7849.0120 A(4)
II.C.1.a
This requirement was analyzed in the power purchase agreement dockets
and the Department determined that this requirement has been met.
7849.0120 B (1)
II.B.1
The Department determined that the proposed Project size is not excessive
and is reasonable; the proposed Project type is reasonable because Xcel
will need several hundred megawatts of wind, and the proposed Project’s
timing is also reasonable because Xcel requires the additional wind during
the next five years.
7849.0120 B (2)
II.C.1.b
The Department compared the proposed Project with an Xcel-owned
alternative and determined that the proposed Project is reasonable under a
cost analysis because it is a community-based energy development project
(C-BED). The Department confirmed its conclusion in subsequent
comments on March 29, 2010.
7849.0120 B (3)
II.C.1.c
The Department conducted an analysis of the natural and socioeconomic
environment compared to the effects of reasonable alternatives and
concluded that other wind energy proposals would have similar impacts
and therefore concluded that this requirement has been met.
7849.0120 B (4)
II.C.2
The Department compared the reliability of the proposed Project to the
reliability of reasonable alternatives and determined that alternatives
would be wind projects with similar availability and capacity factors and
therefore determined that this requirement has been met.
7849.0120 C (1)
II.A.1.b
The Department concluded that the proposed Project fits the state’s overall
energy needs and that this requirement has been met.
7849.0120 C (2)
II.D
Consider the Environmental Report that will be filed by the Department’s
Energy Facilities Permitting staff.
7849.0120 C (3)
II.D
Consider the Environmental Report that will be filed by the Department’s
Energy Facilities Permitting staff.
6
7849.0120 C (4)
II.D
Consider the Environmental Report that will be filed by the Department’s
Energy Facilities Permitting staff.
7849.0120 D
II.E.1
The Department concluded that the record does not demonstrate that the
design, construction, or operation of the proposed facility, or a suitable
modification of the facility, will fail to comply with relevant policies,
rules, and regulations of other state and federal agencies and local
governments. However, that assessment may change if comments are
received from another governmental entity.
Having analyzed the standards established in Minn. Stat. § 216B.243 and Minn. Rules, part
7849.0120, the Department recommended that the Commission issue a Certificate of Need to
AWA Goodhue for the 78 MW wind farm, as long as the Commission determines that the Project
is a C-BED project.
IV.
The Commission’s Analysis and Action Regarding AWA Goodhue’s Application for
a Certificate of Need
The Commission, having taken into consideration all the factors identified in statute and rule, finds
that AWA Goodhue has proved the need for the proposed large energy facility, the AWA Goodhue
Project, in Goodhue County and will issue the Applicant a Certificate of Need.
The Department recommended, after the lengthy analysis summarized above, that the Commission
should grant the Applicant a Certificate of Need. As shown above, the Department based its
recommendation to grant the certificate of need on its examination of each of the four criteria listed
in Minn. Rules, part 7849.0120.
Having reviewed the Department’s comments, the Commission will accept the Department’s
soundly grounded findings and recommendations. Based on those findings, augmented by the
Department’s Environmental Report and the record as a whole, the Commission makes findings
on these four points.
First, the probable result of denial of the Applicant’s position would be an adverse effect upon the
future adequacy, reliability, or efficiency of energy supply to the applicant, to the applicant’s
customers, or to the people of Minnesota and neighboring states, taking into account the five
factors listed in Minn. Rules, part 7849.0120, subpart A (1)-(5).
Second, a more reasonable and prudent alternative to AWA Goodhue’s proposed facility has not
been demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence on the record, considering the four factors
listed in Minn. Rules, part 7849.0120, subpart B (1)-(4).
Third, a preponderance of the evidence in the record demonstrates that the Applicant’s proposed
facility will provide benefits to society in a manner compatible with protecting the natural and
socioeconomic environments, including human health, considering the four factors in Minn.
Rules, part 7849.0120, subpart C (1)-(4).
7
Fourth, the record does not demonstrate that the design, construction, or operation of the proposed
facility, or a suitable modification of the facility, will fail to comply with the relevant policies,
rules, and regulations of other state and federal agencies and local governments. See Minn.
Rules, part 7849.0120, subpart D.
In its thorough and well-founded comments, the Department has also discussed AWA Goodhue’s
asserted need in light of the applicable additional statutory factors listed in Minn. Stat. § 216B.243,
subd. 3 (9)-(11). 12 The Commission agrees with the Department’s analysis that consideration of
these statutory criteria support granting the Certificate of Need for the AWA Goodhue Wind Project.
V.
The Department’s Environmental Report
A.
Background
Minn. Rules, part 7849.1800, subp. 2 requires the Commission to determine, at the time it makes a
final decision on a Certificate of Need application, whether the Environmental Report and the
record created in the matter address the issues identified by the Commissioner of the Department
of Commerce. The rule states in relevant part:
At the time the PUC makes a final decision on a certificate of need application…, the PUC
shall determine whether the environmental report and the record created in the matter
address the issues identified by the commissioner in the decision made pursuant to part
7849.1400, subpart 7.
B.
The Environmental Scoping Decision
On May 27, 2010, the Department issued a decision pursuant to Minn. Rules, part 7849.1400
determining the scope of the Environmental Report to be prepared by the Department’s EFP staff
on AWA Goodhue’s proposed project.
C.
The Environmental Report
In response to that scoping decision, the EFP staff prepared and filed an Environmental Report on
June 29, 2010 analyzing the potential impacts associated with the proposed Project and the impacts
of the following alternatives to the project: 1) a no-build alternative; 2) another 78 MW wind
project built in another location; 3) a 30 MW biomass plant, and (4) other renewable energy
technologies.
Section 4 of the Environmental Report addressed Project alternatives, including a 78 MW
LWECS, a 30 MW Biomass Plant, and other renewable energy alternatives, including solar,
hydropower, fuel cells, and anaerobic digestion.
Section 5 of the Report addressed a no-build alternative.
12
Minn. Stat. § 216B.243, subd. (12), which applies when the petitioner is proposing a nonrenewable
generating plant, is inapplicable to AWA Goodhue’s application because the Applicant is proposing a wind
generation facility.
8
Section 6 of the Report addressed the human and environmental impacts of the project and Project
alternatives. For each of these projects, the section analyzed the impact of air emissions, hazardous
air pollutants and volatile organic compounds, light and visibility impairment (including shadow
flicker, viewshed, and lighting), ozone formation, fuel availability and delivery, associated
transmission facilities, water appropriations, wastewater, solid and hazardous waste, noise,
property values, communications, wildlife including birds and bats, natural resources, and
aviation. Bald eagles and loggerhead shrike were identified as two of the bird species located in
and near the Project area.
Section 6 also analyzed the mitigative measures that could reasonably be implemented to eliminate
or minimize any adverse impacts identified for the proposed project and the alternatives analyzed.
The Environmental Report stated the following regarding the feasibility and availability of the
alternatives:
•
The three categories of impact that can be identified if the Goodhue Wind Project is not
built are the following: hampering of the state’s ability to meet its renewable energy
objectives; the loss of economic benefits in the Project area; and the likely negative impact
of providing replacement electricity from a non-renewable energy source.
•
Solar, hydropower, and anaerobic digestion are not feasible alternatives.
•
For a generic 78 MW LWECS alternative, the transmission grid in some parts of the state is
very near capacity and the connection of additional generating capacity is not easily
achieved. A 30 MW biomass plant is feasible and likely available but one was not
identified or recommended.
D.
The Commission’s Analysis and Action Regarding the EFP’s Environmental
Report
The Environmental Report is one component of the certificate of need process. It is a high-level
document used to identify more broadly and generally the potential issues raised by a Project. In
this case, the Commission finds that the Environmental Report properly highlighted issues, which
were evaluated and thoroughly addressed in the site permit process. The issues identified in the
Environmental Report, such as wildlife protection, were examined in depth in the site permit
process and addressed in the site permit conditions. The site permit contains detailed requirements
the Applicant must satisfy both before, and after, construction to ensure continued compliance
with those requirements.
ALJ Lipman’s Summary of Public Testimony submitted on September 7, 2010 identified concerns
from area residents regarding impacts on wildlife from the Project. The ALJ’s Summary also
included the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) response on how to effectively address
those issues through the site permit process. The DNR suggested using appropriate site permit
conditions such as avoidance measures to help limit the Project’s proximity to areas of significant
biodiversity and reporting requirements to ensure notification to regulatory agencies of the
Applicant’s efforts to protect wildlife, including birds and bats. In its comments at the public
hearings, the DNR also encouraged the Applicant to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service for input on the Applicant’s surveys of avian habitat and migration.
9
On June 2, 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provided additional information on eagles and
bats. The agency confirmed the locations of two new eagle nest sites, and made recommendations
on continuing use of surveys and assessments of the Project area. The information also
recommended steps to protect bat species, particularly the Northern long-eared bat. These issues
and the agency’s concerns are fully developed and addressed in the site permit process.
Having reviewed the Environmental Report, the Commission finds that the Report and the record
as a whole adequately address the issues identified in the Department’s Scoping Decision.
ORDER
1.
The Commission finds that the Environmental Report on the project adequately addresses
the issues identified by the Environmental Report Scoping Decision.
2.
The Commission hereby grants AWA Goodhue, LLC a Certificate of Need for the 78 MW
Goodhue Wind Project and associated facilities.
3.
This Order shall become effective immediately.
BY ORDER OF THE COMMISSION
Burl W. Haar
Executive Secretary
This document can be made available in alternative formats (i.e., large print or audio tape) by
calling 651.296.0406 (voice). Persons with hearing or speech disabilities may call us through
Minnesota Relay at 1.800.627.3529 or by dialing 711.
10
Was this manual useful for you? yes no
Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Download PDF

advertisement