State moves forward with wind farm
The Minnesota Department of Commerce has officially announced its Scoping Decision regarding the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement for the Dodge County Wind Project proposed for Steele, Dodge and Olmsted Counties. The project is being proposed by Dodge County Wind, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Next Era Energy Resources.
In the time leading up to the scoping decision, which was announced by the state on April 25, staff gathered public input on the project through a public meeting and an associated public comment period.
As a result of that information, the state has identified the impacts and mitigation measures that will be analyzed in the EIS. The EIS will be conducted by the Energy Environmental Review and Analysis (EERA) staff.
DCW is proposing a project that will generate up to 170 megawatts (MW) of electric energy and deliver it to the electrical grid at Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency’s (SMMPA) exiting Byron substation via a newly constructed 345 kv transmission line. The project involves up to 70 turbines that would be located in Steele and Dodge Counties as well as underground electric collection lines, a new collector substation, an operation and maintenance building, permanent meteorological towers and gravel access roads.
The turbines would be between 80 and 140 feet tall with approximately 400 to 1,200 feet between structures.
DCW proposed two possible routes for the transmission lines and after considering public input the EERA has been directed to consider additional routes along existing lines to the north of DCW’s proposed route.
Before the project can be built the Public Utilities Commission must approve three separate items: a certificate of need, a site permit and a route permit. All three items are being processed jointly.
Letters were sent out to affected property owners on May 2 explaining the proposed routes and EIS process.
It is anticipated that the draft EIS will be completed in June. Following the completion of the EIS public meetings will be held and an additional comment period will follow.
Public hearings are anticipated in August. An administrative law judge (ALJ) from the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings will preside over the hearings and after they are completed the ALJ will submit a report with recommendations for the Commission to consider in evaluating the certificate of need and the site and route permit applications.
A Commission decision on the applications are expected in late 2019.