Subcommittee nears completion of draft wind ordinanceA Goodhue County subcommittee charged with drafting an updated wind ordinance is nearing completion of its work.
A Goodhue County subcommittee charged with drafting an updated wind ordinance is nearing completion of its work.
The Wind Energy Conversion Systems subcommittee -- formed recently to study the county's role in regulating large-scale wind development -- will meet Tuesday to discuss final changes to its proposed draft ordinance.
Goodhue County Commissioner and subcommittee member Dan Rechtzigel said the subcommittee should have its revisions complete in time for the Planning Advisory Commission to take it up at its July 19 meeting.
"I feel confident that we're very close," he said.
What impact the ordinance will have, however, and whether it will be put in place in time for the state's decision on the proposed Goodhue Wind project, remains in doubt.
Goodhue County has asked the state to extend its public comment period on Goodhue Wind's proposed 78 MW, 12,000-acre wind project until Oct. 1, in hopes that the county will have an ordinance in place by then.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, the body that regulates large-scale wind projects, has yet to respond to the request. The comment period is set to end mid-July.
The commission has said that it will consider all county regulations on large-scale wind developments but could choose to ignore them as it sees fit.
Rechtzigel said that the PUC should sympathize with the county's dilemma. While everybody wants "some finality" on the issue, he said, it would take time for the draft ordinance to make its way through to the County Board for approval -- at least until well into August.
"If the PUC values our input, then they will abide by the letter we sent up to them and allow us some more time," he said.
Representatives from National Wind, however, have stated that enough time has passed for public comment, and that further delays are unnecessary.
@Normal1: The draft as it currently stands has been met with mixed reviews by both opponents and supporters of the Goodhue Wind project.
Representatives from wind development companies and from Goodhue Wind Truth, a group opposed to large-scale wind development in Goodhue County, were given a chance to provide feedback on the draft ordinance at the WECS subcommittee meeting June 22.
The draft, in its current form, would establish baseline wind turbine setbacks of 1,000 feet for participating homeowners and 1,500 feet for non-participating homeowners, new standards on noise and shadow flicker, and a variety of requirements for wind developers to fulfill before a project could be built.
Steve Groth of Goodhue Wind Truth said he wanted to see regulations put in place to hold wind developers accountable for any property damage caused by a turbine malfunction. He also requested that a "diminution appraisal" be conducted for each property in a wind development's footprint. He said the county should require developers to pay for any lost property values resulting from nearby wind turbines.
"Everybody I've talked to, their property values are going to tank because of this project," he said.
Rechtzigel, however, questioned the legality of that measure.
Ben Kerl of National Wind, the Minneapolis-based company that manages Goodhue Wind, said that the proposed ordinance, as it stands, would be especially restrictive on wind development.
"I believe that if this were enacted throughout the state, you wouldn't see these projects in Minnesota," he said.
Kerl pointed to the draft ordinance's documentation requirements and restrictions on shadow flicker as especially restrictive compared to similar ordinances. He said that by limiting hours of shadow flicker on non-participating homes to zero, the ordinance would effectively kill the project.
"That's a performance standard that we could not possibly live up to," he said.
The subcommittee will now weigh the concerns of both sides at its upcoming meeting. In reaching for a compromise, Rechtzigel said, it's unlikely that either side of the issue will get exactly what it wants.
"We're trying to help people live together, but in doing so, you're setting things up in a way that neither side is going to be completely satisfied," he said.