AWA Goodhue Avian and Bat Protection Plan

DATE:              February 12, 2012

TO:                   MPUC Comments

AWA Goodhue is claiming that the high numbers of American Bald Eagles inside their footprint is a recent event and area residents are responsible for these high numbers by unnatural baiting of the eagles.

Area residents are responsible for the presence of bald eagles here in large numbers.  But this was not accomplished overnight with artificial food.  This was accomplished by residents engaging in good stewardship of the land over the last fifty years. The Minnesota DNR and the USFWS are to blame as well. Their wildlife management policies and diligent enforcement work helped to make the Bald Eagle recovery possible.

It is my understanding that this is the first ABPP being considered in the permitting of a wind energy project in Minnesota.  According to the ABPP, this applicant first assessed the environmental risks posed by this project in 2007. They have had plenty of time and plenty of input from project residents.  (See document submissions listed below.)  AWA Goodhue ignored this evidence and denied that bald eagles nested in their footprint.

Their current requirement for expeditious approval of this ABPP is due to this denial and lack of work to resolve these issues.   I ask that before approving the AWA Goodhue  ABPP you consult with those members of the DNR and USFWS that have been to the project footprint and have seen the active nests and eagles here.

This project will most likely “take” kill several bald eagles over the duration of this project’s useful service life. This is according to AWA Goodhue’s own ABPP.  Also, this ABPP contains detailed plans to modify eagle behavior and to enforce regiments of food management that are intended to starve eagles out of the footprint. This must also be considered an eagle “take.” Taking of eagles in any form is illegal.  For these reasons, it is imperative that you not approve this ABPP before an Incidental Take Permit is issued by the USFWS.

I strongly feel that the purpose of an ABPP is to accurately assess environmental impacts and address how these impacts can be minimized.  An ABPP should not be a platform for applicants to blame the environmental situation on another party.  Unfounded accusations against area residents of eagle baiting made by AWA Goodhue do not explain or change the number of bald eagles present. These accusations should be addressed elsewhere.  They do not belong in the ABPP.  All references to eagle baiting should be stricken from the ABPP before it is approved.

AWA Goodhue did not do their homework.  They ignored the work done by others, and, worse yet, they have accused unnamed members of the community of lying and committing illegal acts.  AWA Goodhue now wants the PUC to expedite approval of this seriously deficient ABPP.

The OES-EFP claims that problems with the ABPP can be addressed in ITP should be ignored. There is no reason to believe that AWA Goodhue will actually address these problems in the ITP. Meeting USFWS turbine siting guidelines might require AWA Goodhue to eliminate turbines and abandon portions of the project footprint.  AWA has not expressed any willingness to reduce the size of their project in the past.   There no reason to believe that AWA Goodhue will seek or be issued an ITP unless the PUC requires them to do so before they can begin construction. There is every reason to believe that once this ABPP is approved, AWA Goodhue immediately will begin construction.  An ITP will protect the PUC from allowing the commission of a federal crime. An ITP must be  an integral part of AWA Goodhue’s ABPP.  The  ITP will protect the applicant, the local landowners, the Minnesota  DNR , the USFWS, the OES-EFP, as well as the PUC. To ensure this the ITP must be issued before the ABPP is approved.

 

200911-43918-01 PUBLIC 09-1186 CN GOODHUE WIND TRUTH COMMENTS–EVIDENCE OF NESTING BALD EAGLES NEAR CR7 AND CR9, GOODHUE MN 11/12/2009

First evidence of eagle activity in Goodhue Wind’s footprint submitted through Goodhue Wind Truth

200911-43920-02 PUBLIC 09-1186 CN GOODHUE WIND TRUTH COMMENTS–EAGLES AT CORD8 11/12/2009

More evidence of bald eagle activity submitted by other members of the public.

20106-52055-01 PUBLIC 09-1186 CN DOC OES REPORT–ENVIRONMENTAL 06/29/2010

OES failed to report the true extent of bald eagle activity in AWA Goodhue’s footprint. The OES also mischaracterized the footprint as agricultural fields with little wetlands.

201010-55632-03 PUBLIC 09-1186 CN RICK CONRAD COMMENTS 10/20/2010

Public comment pointing out several deficiencies in applicants and OES environmental report.

20113-60271-01 PUBLIC 09-1186 CN RICK CONRAD COMMENTS 03/10/2011

Public comment requesting that transcripts, of His Honor ALJ Lipman’s  public hearings for Goodhue Wind , which contained evidence of bald eagle activity in the footprint among other serious concerns be filed in Goodhue Wind e-dockets in a downloadable format

20115-62580-01 PUBLIC 09-1186 CN RICK CONRAD COMMENTS–FOOTPRINT RESIDENT RESPONSE TO ALJ FINDINGS 05/16/2011

Public comment in response to ALJ Sheehy findings.  See specific response finding number 3.  Use of environmental resource.

20116-64060-06 PUBLIC 09-1186 CN RICK CONRAD HANDOUT – COMMISSION–2 OF 2 06/27/2011

Public comments photographic evidence of bald eagles inside the footprint roosting adjacent to an AWA proposed turbine sight in the year 1997.  This was submitted prior to the site permit being approved with conditions.

20116-64060-03 PUBLIC 09-1186 CN RICK CONRAD HANDOUT – COMMISSION–1 OF 2 06/27/2011

Eagles in footprint unintentional duplication of previous submission.

201111-68222-01 PUBLIC 09-1186 CN RICK CONRAD COMMENTS–RECONSIDERATION COMMENT FROM RESIDENT OF FOOTPRINT 11/09/2011

Public comment and request for reconsideration on environmental concerns, among other concerns.  Mischaracterization of the footprint and projects environmental impact by the applicant.

20121-69889-03 PUBLIC 09-1186 CN RICK CONRAD PUBLIC COMMENT–RESIDENT OF PROJECT FOOTPRINT COMMENT 01/04/2012

Public comments about concerns regarding references by applicatant to eagle baiting in the ABPP.  Specific concerns about applicant ability to enforce food management as a mitigation strategy due to their lack of control over private property inside their footprint.  Applicant has since filed an amended ABPP stating they will use local law enforcement, the DNR and USFWS authority and Board of Animal Health to force those non-participants that do not voluntarily comply, into compliance.   This amended strategy poses the questions “will civil rights be violated“,” what will constitute probable cause“etc?

20121-70527-01 PUBLIC 09-1186 CN RICK CONRAD OTHER–CORRECTED MAP OF ACTIVE BALD EAGLE NEST LOCATIONS FOR2011 AND IMPORTANT EAGLE ROOSTING AREA. 01/22/2012

A more correct map of eagle nests and important use areas inside the AWA footprint.

20121-70659-02 PUBLIC 09-1186 CN DAN RYAN PUBLIC COMMENT–RE AWA GOODHUE EAGLE POINT COUNT REPORT 01/25/2012

Public comments  by a prominent member of the community  inside the footprint that addresses AWA  allegations  against  the community of eagle baiting.

 

20121-70677-02 PUBLIC 09-1186 CN GARY FARREL PUBLIC COMMENT— ON AWA GOODHUE EAGLE POINT COUNT REPORT FALL MIGRATION 2011 01/26/2012

Public comments  by another prominent member of the community  inside the footprint that addresses AWA  allegations  against  the community of eagle baiting.

20122-71233-02 PUBLIC 09-1186 CN RICK CONRAD LETTER— 02 01 12 REQUEST FOR PUBLIC COMMENT AT AWA GOODHUE ABPP HEARING 02/06/2012

Request for public comments at ABPP hearing.

Community Wind or “The Story T. Boone doesn’t want you to hear”

The story T. Boone Pickens does not want you to hear. Told by two of our
best spokespersons Kristi Rosenquist and Mary Hartman.
Subject:
YouTube video regarding bald eagles in the AWA Goodhue Wind Project

Below is the web link to the YouTube video that
Mary Hartman has posted regarding our beloved bald eagles in the AWA Goodhue
Wind Project.  Please let her know what you think of it.

Why isn’t Goodhue County appealing???

Honorable Goodhue County Commissioners,

Wind energy development is no miracle cure to global warming or foreign oil. Wind technology comes with its own risks and benefits. It takes control of huge areas of land to collect this energy. Everyone in the area will be affected. Goodhue County’s ten-rotor setback from non-participants is a common sense standard that will help protect neighboring property values and prevent some of the worst problems from wind development. We all worked hard to achieve this limited measure of protection. The work to insure that our local ordinance is not ignored is an ongoing legal battle taking place at the state level.   Goodhue County’s failure to appeal the PUC’s decision not to enforce the ten-rotor setback from non-participants risks our property values and even our health.

Commissioner Bryant has stated that by appealing we could lose the PUC’s acknowledgment that we have a right to specify our own setbacks.  A valid concern, which I share, however our right to establish our own setbacks was not granted by the Minnesota PUC.  That right is granted to us by state statute.

Commissioner Rechtzigel’s argument was that this fight has gone on long enough. That Goodhue County should not oppose the state, which wants CapX2020 and wind turbines in Goodhue County, and if we do not end this fight here and now then where will it ever end?   In response to Commissioner Rechtzigel’s arguments, I say if you do not enforce our ordinance wind developers will cover every acre of Goodhue County they can sign with wind turbines, having the CapX2020 transmission line here will make this prime wind development territory.  Without setbacks that protect the established residential uses, rural property values will be devastated.  Local ownership of wind development projects in conjunction with adequate health and safety setbacks could mitigate most of these concerns.  Goodhue County should insist upon true C-Bed projects, which would bring tens of millions of dollars of revenue to local owners as opposed to mere thousands of dollars in wind lease payments.

Commissioner Samuelson since you did not appear, you did not weigh in on this issue. You owe the citizens of your district your vote on this issue.  Times are changing, the county must be aggressive to minimize local damage and maximize local gains.

Commissioner Seifert and Commissioner Allen thank you for supporting Goodhue County’s Wind Turbine ordinance and county residents.  Commissioner Bryant, Commissioner Rechtzigel, and Commissioner Samuelson, any of you could make a motion to reconsider the failed motion to appeal.  This should not end with an indecisive surrender by the Goodhue County Board. Goodhue County has been out maneuvered those that would take our resources and diminish our county. The county’s lack of participation in the appeal process unfairly burdens local citizens.   Please appeal the PUC’s decision to ignore our legal wind turbine ordinance.

Rick Conrad     21 Nov 2011

 

No consideration and no reconsideration for Goodhue

     Like many people that live within the proposed AWA Goodhue Wind footprint
I had hoped that the PUC would reconsider their decision to ignore the local
Goodhue County wind turbine ordinance. The many reasons not to permit this
project include the environmental impacts of the project, the health and safety
implications for footprint residents, and the financial burden that this project
could inflict upon Goodhue County and its citizens.
     The applicant has perpetually understated the impacts that this project
will have and misrepresented Belle Creek as a vast cornfield with little
wildlife and no major environmental concerns. Belle Creek township shares it’s
name with Belle Creek the designated trout stream and the Belle Creek watershed
district which was established to preserve and conserve wildlife. The PUC’s
environmental scoping process is obviously flawed, very little attention was
paid to the actual topography of Belle Creek and the presence of American Bald
Eagles and many other sensitive species in the footprint.
      Most disturbing is that Goodhue County reviewed and presented to the
PUC thousands of pages of documentation filled with actual evidence to support
their ordinance and the PUC chose to believe that the sound and shadow flicker
simulation studies presented by AWA proved this project would not harm us.
Simulations are fictitious studies based on assumptions made by those conducting
the simulations. Fiction triumphing over facts, simply unbelievable yet that is
what happened.
                                Rick Conrad     11 Nov 2011

 

What residents want and need.

I  live in the proposed Goodhue Wind project area. I want what all people expect to be their right. I want to feel safe in my home. I want to continue to enjoy my quiet rural property without the noise from wind turbines or the shadow of a wind turbine falling on my property or on my house. I have worked hard all my life. My property is my single most important possession. What right does anyone have to threaten me by erecting something on their property that will destroy the peace and quiet of my home? Wind developers plan to erect turbines surrounding my home on all sides without my permission. The Goodhue County Commissioners refuse to protect me. They refuse to even acknowledge that industrial wind development is a threat.

The Goodhue County Board has failed to understand the magnitude of the impact that Industrial Wind will have on area residents or the county as a whole. It is their duty to protect the rights of all citizens. The board continues to fail to acknowledge the concerns of the overwhelming majority of citizens who are only demanding caution and consideration of their rights and the risk to their health and property value.

The Goodhue County Planning Advisory Commission appointed a subcommittee to draft a wind turbine ordinance that would protect resident’s health and property rights. The members of the subcommittee worked very hard to arrive at language that will mitigate many of the problems caused by large turbines. The new ordinance is not perfect, non-participants are still expected to put up with noise levels that will mean the turbines will still be heard in our yards outside our homes. The PAC should recommend that the County Commissioners adopt the new wind turbine ordinance.

The Belle Creek township board realized the legitimate concerns of majority of area residents and enacted a moratorium to study wind development problems with the goal of protecting the people with proper setbacks from homes for all wind turbines. Why has Goodhue County failed to do so? I believe in wind energy but I would never erect a 400-foot tall wind turbine 1500 ft from my neighbor. Adequate setbacks are needed to protect all people who will live near turbines for the next sixty years. All citizens are expected to obey the laws and pay their taxes. Is it to much to expect our government to fulfill their responsibility to protect our basic rights?

Rick Conrad

 

Wind Lease Agreements

The original C-Bed requirements for 51% ownership in the local jurisdiction should be reinstated. What is currently happening in Goodhue County is the bundling of the county’s wind rights by wind developers for sale to large utilities, out of state investors and foreign investors. The true value of windrights is yet to be determined. Goodhue County covered in wind turbines with the majority of the benefits going out of state or over seas could place us in the position the indians found themselves in after trading Manhattan Island for a handful of beads.

www.thekeyonleader.com

I beleive in alternative clean energy, solar power, wind power and biofuels. All offer opportunities for farmers and land owners. But leasing wind rights for longer than the service life of the equipment installed does not make any sense at all. I am told that wind developers got an exemption from a Minnesota constitutional protection of farmland to do just that. I was offered a chance to lease my wind rights to Goodhue Wind but did not do so because of the length of the contract and all the property rights I would be giving up, and most importantly they were not offering even half of what I think they should be paying. I am waiting for a better offer from a project that will follow Goodhue County’s setbacks and will not require that I sign over more than just my wind rights.

I beleive that the current project and the current state permitting process does nothing to protect our local resources. There needs to be requirements that wind development contracts do not include clauses that give wind developers control of everything above on or below the ground. Such terms could someday be construed to include ground water, sunshine(solar power) and even farming operations.  All these extras that the developers claim are only in the contracts to protect their investors make me suspicious. What if the developers are really trying to take possession of our ground water for future sale? Clean water is rapidly becoming precious we might someday be paying a large corporation just to pump our water out of the ground.

Everything contains it’s exact opposite. Without proper planning and a better understanding of what is truely at stake, instead of benefiting from wind development all area residents and especially those that enter into bad wind leases could lose.

Rick Conrad

Community Wind???

Last week’s hearing at the PUC did uncover more information. With the revelation of the 99 per cent ownership of the AWA Goodhue project by Texas entities leaving only one per cent to be split among people who do not live in Texas how can this be considered a Minnesota C-Bed project?  C-Bed benefits flow directly to owners, not those who live in the area and lease their wind rights. What apparently did not come out during the hearing is that the majority of the people living in the project footprint do not support the the project and many actively oppose it. The Goodhue project will become the poster child for anti-wind groups. Pushing this project forward will make wind development in Minnesota even more difficult than it is currently.  The Goodhue requirements for ten rotors from non-participants promotes wind development by requiring that developers work with all landowners and residents within a half mile radius of a 400 hundred foot turbine.  This insures that those that would experience the worst noise levels and shadow flicker will be project participants. This greatly reduces the possibly that the public or local governments will suffer from lost property value caused by uncontrolled wind exploitation.  The ten rotor diameter is common sense, but as Albert Einstein said “Common sense ain’t all that common”.  I have been informed that Albert never said that, that Will Rodgers may have said something close to that’ Common sense isn’t common”.  I have seen the exact quote elsewhere since I origally post this”Common sense ain’t all that common”  until someone can prove who said it orignally I will just take credit for misquoting Einstein.  Rick

Rick Conrad

Intimidation???

  AWA Goodhue in their quest to build a 78 megawatt industrial wind facility surrounding our homes is demanding to know the names of members of Goodhue Wind Truth www.goodhuewindtruth.com and its sister organization the Coalition for Sensible Siting www.coalitionforsensiblesiting.com . AWA claims that knowing the people in these groups and the property owned by members of the groups is important to the issue of, good cause not to apply, Goodhue County wind turbine permit standards in the PUC’s permitting process. There are no membership lists for GWT or CSS. I am proud of my association with these groups, they are my neighbors and most are friends. GWT and CSS are working to ensure that turbines will be sited at safe distances from our homes. This will not stop wind development in the county.

My personal decision not to sign a wind lease agreement with Goodhue Wind had little to do with my sympathy for the members of GWT or CSS. I decided early on that Goodhue Wind was not offering a fraction of what I felt they should pay for placing a turbine capable of supplying the electrical needs of 400 family homes on my property.  Conditions of the contract would have transferred too much control of my land and my life to Goodhue Wind.

    Wind energy development is no miracle cure to global warming or foreign oil. Wind technology comes with its own risks and benefits. It takes control of huge areas of land to collect this energy. And everyone in the area will be affected. Goodhue County’s ten-rotor setback from non-participants is a common sense standard that will help protect neighboring property values and prevent some of the worst problems from wind development. We all worked hard to achieve this limited measure of protection. The work to insure that our local ordinance is not ignored is an ongoing legal battle taking place at the state level. This requires good legal representation and money to pay for it. This will cost tens of thousands of dollars, but will likely save hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in homeowner property value . This burden has been carried by a small group of residents using large sums of their money to protect everyone in the community. The Coalition for Sensible Siting was established recently to allow anyone who wishes to join this battle an easy way to contribute. Please visit www.coalitionforsensiblesiting.com and donate.  Justice is expensive!!!    Rick Conrad  06 Mar 2011

Goodhue County ten rotor diameter setbacks

What is really on the line in the decision whether or not to apply Goodhue County’s setbacks in the permitting of AWA Goodhue’s wind project? The future of the planet? Not likely. The future of wind development in Goodhue County? Maybe, but only if you assume that wind can only be developed by large industrial corporations who sign a minimal amount of land and bully their way through the permitting process. The future of AWA Goodhue? Possibly but only their timeline and project layout are affected for sure. They can proceed by signing more land and participants and negotiateing with the people who live inside ten rotor diameters of their turbines.

The ten rotor setback insures that wind development will be done in areas where the majority of residents are signed participants. It does not prevent all industrial wind energy development. It reduces the shadow flicker on non-participants to almost zero. It insures lower noise levels for non-participant, It does not insure that turbine noise for non-participants will not exceed present background levels.

How does it effect you as an individual landowner? It certainly reduces the number of sites where you can site turbines on your land without the consent of your neighbors. But would you really want to inflict possible problems on your neighbors without their consent? Their consent might even offer you some protection from legal actions. If you and you neighbor don’t get along now, doing a turbine on your land closer to their house than the house where you live is not likely to improve relations. But conversely if your neighbor were to become a paid participant you may become the best of friends.

So what is really at stake? Not wind development so much as who will benefit and who will pay the price. Will the people who have lived here for generations benefit or pay the price for wind development?  Will our basic rights be ignored?  Will we be compensated for our lost property value? Will we be allowed to harnes the wind for our own use and to sell at fair market value? Or will outside forces seize control of our wind and property rights for their profit at our expense and the expense of our children for generations.

Rick Conrad 25 Nov 2010

 

Last minute comments to PUC

Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
121 7th Place E., Suite 350
Saint Paul, MN 55101-2147
Attn: Mr. Burl W. Haar Executive Secretary, Docket Number 08 1233 and Docket Number 09 1186
Whereas there is no official comment period open at this time regarding dockets 08 1233 and 09 1186. Whereas Goodhue Wind AWA is still in the process of submitting information to be considered in the permit process for their 78 megawatt commercial wind generation project. I would like the comments in this letter to also be considered in the permitting process for this project which if built will surround my currently quiet and rural home with turbines in every direction.

 

Please apply the wind turbine setbacks of ten rotor diameters recently approved by the Goodhue County Board. These setbacks are not unfair to large turbines. Quite the opposite, ten rotor diameters allow large turbines to be placed closer to the homes of non-participants than smaller turbines when you factor in their relative size. Example a 270-foot rotor diameter 2700 from a non-participant equals a 10 rotor diameters setback. The minimum setback for a 35-foot rotor diameter turbine is the minimum 750 feet setback. That is a setback of over 20 rotor diameters. Goodhue County chose the ten-rotor diameter setback to address the serious problems of noise and shadow flicker in an easily enforceable manner. These setbacks can easily and fairly be applied to all turbines sited in Goodhue County allowing Goodhue County to protect its tax base and the public health without added expense to County taxpayers. Applying ten rotor diameter setbacks for non-participants to a C-bed community supported project should not be a burden.
Goodhue County made only one serious omission in the drafting of their Wind Turbine ordinance. When they withdrew all references to shadow flicker, they did not specify a setback from road intersections. I feel it very important that wind turbines not be sited where they will cause shadow flicker on road intersections. Extreme shadow flicker can be disorienting, but even mild shadow flicker has the potential of distracting drivers. Even a momentary distraction when approaching an intersection could prove deadly. I ask that since Goodhue County’s current ordinance does not provide for Minnesota drivers in this regard that you exercise your permitting authority to require that no shadow flicker occur on any Minnesota road intersections. Zero shadow flicker can be enforced either by siting so that shadow flicker can not occur or requiring that wind turbines be shut down during the periods that shadow flicker on a prohibited location would occur. The amount of time that this would cause turbines to be shut down would be only a fraction of one percent of their total yearly operating time.
I ask on behalf of the citizens of Goodhue County that you follow our setbacks of ten-rotor diameters from non-participants. I ask on behalf of all people who drive our highways and roads that you take up the cause of protecting them and not allow any shadow flicker to occur on or near road intersections.
Rick Conrad 14 Oct 2010
Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
121 7th Place E., Suite 350
Saint Paul, MN 55101-2147
Attn: Mr. Burl W. Haar Executive Secretary, Docket Number 08 1233 and Docket Number 09 1186
Whereas there is no official comment period open at this time regarding dockets 08 1233 and 09 1186. Whereas Goodhue Wind AWA is still in the process of submitting information to be considered in the permit process for their 78 megawatt commercial wind generation project. I would like the comments in this letter to also be considered in the permitting process for this project which if built will surround my currently quiet and rural home with turbines in every direction.
Please apply the wind turbine setbacks of ten rotor diameters recently approved by the Goodhue County Board. These setbacks are not unfair to large turbines. If this truly is to be considered a C-Bed wind project then the setbacks should respect the values of the local community in which the project will be constructed.
The local community does not oppose wind development done in a responsible and respectful manner. Having run for Goodhue County Commissioner in the primary I feel that I have a good understanding of the wishes of the voters in Belle Creek township. Even though I was eliminated I received more votes than any of the other four candidates did in my home township of Belle Creek. My platform on wind energy was that I view wind energy as just another potential source of energy that farmers could develop if setbacks were in place that would protect their neighbors. The general view in Belle Creek is that Industrial Wind will not benefit the local area in any way.
    The general feeling of most people is that there is no good reason to pursue wind energy in a farming and dairy community. Industrial developers are raping our land and homes by erecting these large turbines. And pillaging our local resources, even local supporters of wind energy feel that the developers are not paying a fair price for the use of our wind resources. If this project were to request a C-Bed resolution of support from either Belle Creek township or Goodhue County at the present time it is unlikely that it would receive support now. The recently approved new simplified local wind ordanance allows for siting turbine closer that the ten rotor diameters IF the affected neighbors agree to a reduction down to 750 feet or meet state standards for noise pollution. Please follow the local Goodhue County wind turbine ordinance.
    The local community is strong. Facing what they see as a mutual threat has only strengthened the community. More and more supporters are joining the local Goodhue Wind Truth organization. The simple truth is that no one wants large turbines imposed upon them at the setbacks that wind developers are currently seeking. Every wind turbine proposed or built without adequate setbacks or the participation of the neighbors will merely increases wind resistance. It would be best for wind development if the PUC were to adopt Goodhue County’s ten rotor diameters setback for non-participants negotiable down to the state noise control distance as the PUC’s own guideline for wind turbine siting. This would ensure that wind developers would develop true C-Bed projects. And that local non-paticipants would not be overly burdened by wind development. Higher local participation would ensure that the PUC would not be blamed for problems caused by 400-foot tall turbines sited at 1500 feet by many angry Minnesota citizens and taxpayers.
Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
121 7th Place E., Suite 350
Saint Paul, MN 55101-2147
Attn: Mr. Burl W. Haar Executive Secretary, Docket Number 08 1233 and Docket Number 09 1186
Whereas there is no official comment period open at this time regarding dockets 08 1233 and 09 1186. Whereas Goodhue Wind AWA is still in the process of submitting information to be considered in the permit process for their 78 megawatt commercial wind generation project. I would like the comments in this letter to also be considered in the permitting process for this project which if built will surround my currently quiet and rural home with turbines in every direction.

 

Just days before the final PUC siting hearing Goodhue Wind AWA posted environmental studies that they conducted. These studies find that American Bald Eagles and Loggerhead Shrikes exist throughout the project area. Their conclusions that their project will not adversely affect these protected avian species are questionable. Their speculation that since Loggerhead Shrikes fly low from tree to tree and turbine rotor blades are 100 hundred feet above the ground turbines will pose no threat to Loggerhead Shrikes is unsupported. All smaller birds fly low from tree to tree, but their flight ability is not limited to only flying low from tree to tree. The claim is also made that setbacks will protect the Loggerhead Shrikes. What setbacks? Project specified setbacks for this project are 1000 feet from participants and 1500 feet from non-participants. The project application does not specify any setbacks from Loggerhead Shrike populations, hunting grounds or nesting areas. Loggerhead Shrike habitat exists throughout the project area. It is logical to assume that Loggerhead Shrikes being predatory will fly from nesting areas to hunting areas by the shortest routes available regardless of the presence of Industrial Wind Turbines. Loggerhead Shrikes will likely encounter turbine blades at the average rates for all small birds. No study is in evidence as to how turbines will affect the natural habitat. The Loggerhead Shrikes may be driven from this area by the presence of turbines or the insects that they prey upon may be affected. The only fair conclusion as to the affect of permitting turbines near protected species like Bald Eagles and Loggerhead Shrikes is that the outcome is unknown at this time. Caution should be exercised.
   This matter concerns me greatly because I maintain 30 acres of my 80-acre farm in a natural state. This is partly because my land is highly erode able with wetland and a creek. However, the main reason is that I wish to do so. I chose not to develop my land at the expense of the environment. I ask that the PUC not endanger the environment that I have been protecting all my life.
                                                                                          Rick Conrad 14 Oct 2010

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