Letter: PUC needs to listen to LipmannAdministrative Law Judge Eric Lipmann just completed his summary of the Public Utilities Commission 2010 annual review. He heard a lot from citizens who participated in the proceedings on the AWA Goodhue project. Here is what Lipmann had to say:
By: Shelley Nygaard, Goodhue, The Republican Eagle
To the Editor:
Administrative Law Judge Eric Lipmann just completed his summary of the Public Utilities Commission 2010 annual review. He heard a lot from citizens who participated in the proceedings on the AWA Goodhue project. Here is what Lipmann had to say:
In the public hearings on that application, several dozen commentators testified as to their concerns about the externalities of wind farm operations, Minnesota’s standards for C-BED project eligibility and the transparency of Commission’s processes. Their experiences as participants in the proceedings ... have prompted larger and still broader suggestions for reform. Among the key critiques that these commentators would have the commission address and resolve are:
(1) The siting process is overly complex, insular and opaque - and seemingly favors the interests of energy insiders over the interests of the general public.
(2) A lack of uniform and accessible standards for the setbacks of wind turbines from adjacent structures and uses.
(3) Tensions between the mandate to obtain larger shares of electric power from renewable sources of energy, and the obligation under Minn. Stat. 216E.02 to “minimize adverse human and environmental impact” of those energy projects.
(4) There are a number of barriers to the public’s receipt of timely and accurate information on the siting of energy facilities.
(5) Commission and OES staff do not present themselves to the public as neutrals.
(6) The standards for Community Based Energy Developments are too permissive and under-serve the affected public.
With this feedback, the commentators from Goodhue County urge the PUC to revise its process so that it is clear that, in commission decision-making, the siting preferences of individuals and communities are weighted as much as (or more than) the preferences of project applicants.
We, the people, have been heard. Will the PUC listen? Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of nightmare in industrial wind turbine alley.