Spring 1999 Newsletter
Minnesota Wind Breakthrough
The future of wind in Minnesota became much brighter January 21, 1999, with the promise of 400 MW to be built by 2012. Rejecting Northern State Power's analysis, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) decided with a vote of 4-0 that the development of an additional 400 MW of wind is in the public interest. "The public demand for clean, renewable energy was recognized in this decision," said Bill Grant, Director of the Midwest Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America. The PUC deliberations had received substantial public attention, including unprecedented public hearings in St. Cloud, Moorhead, Winona, Pipestone, Mankato, and St. Paul. Citizen testimony was overwhelmingly in favor of moving forward with wind development, in which Minnesota is seen as a national leader in wind energy production and technology. John Dunlop, Great Plains Representative for American Wind Energy Association, said "With the completion of the initial 425 MW required by state law and the additional 400 MW ordered by the PUC, wind businesses will provide as much electricity as used by one out of every six Minnesota households."
NSP is currently contracting projects for the first 425 MW as defined by the 1994 Prairie Island legislative agreement. The agreement called for 400 additional MW to be built if wind power was deter-mined to be the least cost option and in the public interest. Dunlop said, "The PUC has affirmed the state’s leadership in a transition to clean, renewable energy."
Governor Ventura meets with citizens and students from SW Minnesota
Newly elected Governor Jesse Ventura and Government Relations staff Joe Bagnoli, sat down with concerned citizens and leadership from Southwest Minnesota, students from Lake Benton High School, and wind and environmental advocates with the SEED coalition, to hear concerns over the future of wind energy in Minnesota. On January 13, one week before the PUC wind decision, citizens and advocates appealed to the Governor to promote wind development in Minnesota, especially in counties hard hit by low agricultural prices. Ventura agreed that a deal was a deal and NSP should hold up their side of the bargain. Concerns were also raised regarding the Renewable Development Fund, specifically where the funds were and how they could be accessed. Afterwards, meeting participants lobbied various members of the Senate and House to favor and support increased wind development and clean environmental standards in Minnesota.
1999 Legislative Watch
A Renewable Development Fund is to be established as part of the Northern States Power (NSP) Prairie Island legislative agreement of 1994. According to the 1994 statute, $500,000 must be paid per dry cask per year, if the nuclear waste remained on the island beyond 1998. This means $3.5 million this year and probably $4.5 million next year. Who is going to administrate this fund and how are some of the questions to be answered this session. NSP is of the opinion that fund is an internal one that the company itself would control it. The SEED coalition (Sustainable Energy for Economic Development) is holding the positions that the process must be "publicly accountable" and that the fund must have a "strong preference" for projects in Minnesota.
On The Windustry Trail
Don't sign on the dotted line until...
In March, Windustry conducted a series of Town Meetings on Wind Rights. Landowners were presented with a outline of legal contract considerations to help them identify issues before signing wind easement contracts. Meetings were held in Pipestone, Lake Benton, Slayton, Moorhead and St. Charles. More town meetings, Harvesting the Wind: A Landowners Perspective are being held in early April in Lake Wilson. These meetings are intended to provide even more opportunities for landowners to discuss issues and gather information on the wind development that is taking place in Southwest Minnesota. We have wind energy experts, banking and economic development professionals as speakers to talk about the benefits of the various payment options, tax implications, long term value of the land, and different ways of developing wind projects that include local ownership. All the meetings are free and open to the public.
Click on the link below for a pdf version.