Residents question competing wind companiesOfficials from the two wind energy companies quelled rumors at an informational meeting Thursday and said they continue competing for landowner support to build wind farms in the Goodhue area.
By: Jen Cullen, The Republican Eagle
Officials from the two wind energy companies quelled rumors at an informational meeting Thursday and said they continue competing for landowner support to build wind farms in the Goodhue area.
"It's a competitive industry," said Goodhue Wind's Charlie Burdick. "We're on separate tracks and we're each pursuing our own individual projects."
Goodhue Wind — managed by Minneapolis-based National Wind — wants to build up to 39 wind turbines across Goodhue and Belle Creek Townships.
Geronimo Wind — also based out of Minneapolis — has a slightly smaller project in mind with 20 to 33 turbines.
Neither company has filed a permit with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, the state agency that approves or denies large projects. County officials have relatively little say in the process.
Both projects are marketed as Community-Based Energy Developments. C-BED projects are owned by local community members to keep financial benefits within the community.
Each company has signed agreements with landowners willing to house turbines on their property.
"We've got a pretty good contingency going and we're looking for more," said Geronimo Wind's Charlie Daum.
Though company officials have some local support, they know they still must convince hundreds of other residents — many of whom showed up to an informational meeting Thursday in Goodhue.
Many threw out questions about setbacks and property values, topics Daum and Burdick agreed were popular.
Goodhue County staff members said they've spoken with officials in counties that host wind farms.
Officials in Nobles and Dodge counties told local staff that property values have not been affected — and in some cases have even gone up — in their counties.
"You can find whatever you want on the Internet," Daum said. "You can find property values will go up, you can find property values will go down or you can find property values will stay the same."
Thursday's meeting was put on by Goodhue County. Another meeting, sponsored by local citizens, will be held Wednesday.
Marie McNamara said the meeting will include a video testimonial from a Wisconsin farmer who regrets signing a development agreement with a wind company.
The meeting will also touch on:
• Small-scale wind and solar systems as an alternative to larger projects
• Effects of industrial wind projects on property values
• Protection of health safety and wellness of residents who do not sign wind turbine agreements
• Legal liabilities and responsibilities of landowners and the government
"It's a very complex and emotional issue," said McNamara, who farms with her husband, Bruce, in Belle Creek Township. "It's good to get all the cards on the table and see how this is going to affect people."