Goodhue Wind releases detailed site planThey'll be spread across 32,000 acres of central Goodhue County: 50, nearly 400-foot-tall wind turbines spinning out enough power to light up over 23,000 homes.
They'll be spread across 32,000 acres of central Goodhue County: 50, nearly 400-foot-tall wind turbines spinning out enough power to light up over 23,000 homes.
A preliminary site plan submitted to the state by Goodhue Wind puts the scope of the company's proposed wind development project in vivid detail.
It's the most information yet submitted by the company, complete with proposed turbine sites, maps of projected noise emissions, and artistic renderings of how the turbines would appear spread across the landscape.
"It's quite comprehensive," said Ben Kerl, a senior wind developer with National Wind, the Minneapolis-based company that manages Goodhue Wind.
The proposed site plan, along with a 30-page public comment document, was released Friday in the run-up to today's Public Utilities Commission hearing in Goodhue. Both sides of the heated debate over the project will have a chance to get their points across to the state agency, which regulates large-scale wind development projects.
Kerl said the company will take the opportunity to answer public questions about the project in a level of detail that has not yet been available.
"It's going to be our best chance yet to answer peoples' technical issues," he said.
But those wary of the project say the information is too little, too late.
Paul Reese, a rural Goodhue resident opposed to the Goodhue Wind project, said that he doesn't take much stock in the information presented in the site plan. The state's permitting requirements for wind developers are lax, he said, and any information given now could easily change later.
"If you're building a garage on your house, you need to provide a detailed construction plan," he said. "That's not the case with wind projects."
National Wind senior wind developer Chuck Burdick said assertions that the company is dragging its feet on giving concrete details comes from a misunderstanding of how the state permitting process works.
"Most people think of the permitting process that we have everything etched in stone and then we submit everything to the state for approval, but the state process allows for designs to evolve," he said.
Zumbrota City Administrator Neil Jensen said Tuesday he had yet to see the site plan but was disappointed to find out that under the plan four turbines would be placed within the two-mile buffer zone the city requested in January.
"To satisfy Zumbrota's needs, there's a lot of room out there," he said.
The city has argued to the PUC that the two-mile setback would protect its ability to expand.
Though he said the company has attempted to work with Zumbrota to mitigate development concerns, Burdick said land suitable for wind development isn't as plentiful as imagined.
Out of the 32,000-acre project area, he said only 1,030 acres are available for development after setbacks from homes, roads and wetlands are taken into account.
The public health impact of noise emitted by rotating turbines and generators has been a continuing concern for Goodhue County Commissioner Dan Rechtzigel, who sits on a county subcommittee charged with drafting an updated wind ordinance.
After seeing the noise projection map provided by Goodhue Wind -- with many homes falling in areas above the 35 dB level he has recommended -- he said that he hopes Goodhue Wind will work with homeowners individually who may see possible health problems from excessive noise.
"I think they should work doubly hard to get it down to as low a level as possible," he said.