Stoel Rives attorney Sarah Johnson Phillips commented in Midwest Energy News on the potential impact of a Minnesota Public Utilities Commission ("PUC") ruling regarding the siting approval for a proposed $179 million, 78 MW wind energy project in Goodhue County (Minnesota). Last October, about a year after the developer applied for site permits, Goodhue County adopted a setback ordinance that bans wind turbines within 10 rotor diameters, or about half a mile in this case, of any non-participating neighboring home. By contrast, under Minnesota state law, setbacks are generally required between 750 and 1,500 feet based on noise and other factors.
Johnson Phillips said that while the PUC's decision should lend some clarity, it is unlikely to the end the discussion about state-versus-local wind siting. She said she expects the debate will continue in the Legislature and possibly at the PUC.
"The decision itself will be very important to the fate of this particular project, but for the wind industry in Minnesota, I think this is just a focusing event to figure out what the next step is going to be in the conversation about how this process could be improved."
"Minnesota wind farm drama may be entering final act" was published by Midwest Energy News, June 28, 2011 and distributed by Reuters, June 29, 2011.