Saturday, June 30, 2012

Minnesota Court Strikes Local Wind Farm Setback Rules

The Minnesota Court of Appeals struck down a Goodhue County wind farm setback rule earlier this week in favor of less stringent state established setback requirements. Goodhue County commissioners passed a regulation imposing a 2,700 foot setback rule on the project proposed for 5o turbines each 400 feet high, ostensibly to eliminate shadow flicker and turbine noise from neighboring properties. The state permit for the project imposed only 1,500 foot setback.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission issued the 1,500 foot setback permit after a three day hearing which found that the county’s larger setback would have made the wind farm impossible to build. County Commissioners has imposed the 2,700 foot setback to completely eliminate noise and flicker from neighboring properties so as to avoid the cost of modeling and measuring any health effects from noise and flicker. The Court of Appeals determined that there was no evidence of any health effects from flicker and noise, and that the county’s rule was unjustified.

AWA Goodhue Wind, developer of the project, still needs to satisfy environmental requirements respecting bald eagles and other local wildlife before construction can commence. Coalition for Sensible Siting, the environmental group opposing the wind farm in the court case, has not yet decided whether to appeal the ruling to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

blog comments powered by Disqus