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Minnesota regulators approve wind farm amid opposition

September 23, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota regulators unanimously approved permits for a wind farm project in southern Minnesota amid opposition from local residents.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission last week approved site and route permits for Invenergy’s Freeborn Wind Farm project after the developer proposed having noise allowances of no more than 3 decibels above the standard.

“We are very pleased,” said Dan Litchfield, an Invenergy senior manager. “The commission very carefully reviewed the facts of the case and the law.”

A state judge in May had recommended denying the project’s permit, saying the project failed to show it could meet the state’s noise standards.

The commission’s decision came after the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Commerce essentially approved the developer’s proposed special conditions.

“In the scientific community, 3 decibels is considered below the (human) perception level,” Frank Kohlasch, the MPCA’s air assessment manager told the commission.

The project would include construct about 40 turbines southeast of Albert Lea, with about 60 more build across the border in Iowa. The $300 million wind farm would produce up to 200 megawatts of electricity. Xcel Energy will likely take over ownership of the farm.

The project will have a positive economic and health benefits by increasing the tax base and clean energy sources, said Freeborn Wind Energy lawyer Christina Brusven.

Freeborn County residents formed the Association of Freeborn County Landowners to oppose the project over concerns about noise and other issues. Association attorney Carol Overland said about 480 people signed a petition opposing the project.

“The community does not consent,” she said.

Overland also criticized the decision to give Invenergy special conditions when it comes to noise.

“There is no basis for changing the level of noise that is permitted,” she said.

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