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High-Stakes Wind Farm Drama in Minnesota Enters Final Act

Minnesota regulators will likely give their final say this week on the state's highest-profile and hardest-fought battle over wind turbine placement

By Dan Haugen, Midwest Energy News

Jun 29, 2011
rural Goodhue County

Sheehy was critical of the lack of evidence to support health and safety claims by project opponents. She noted that three of the most vocal opponents — McNamara and the Coalition for Sensible Siting's two directors, Steve Groth and Ann Buck — live half a mile or more from the nearest proposed turbine. And she said their legal interpretation that the utilities commission must consider any local ordinance "makes no practical sense."

Overland, the attorney for Goodhue Wind Truth, said the judge "overreached" in her report and that she remains optimistic that the commission will decide in favor of the local setback rules.

Phillips, who has written about the case on Stoel Rives' , said that while the utility commission decision should lend some clarity, it's doubtful that it’s the end of the discussion about state-versus-local wind siting. She said she expects the debate will continue in the legislature and possibly at the commission.

"The decision itself will be very important to the fate of this particular project, but for the wind industry in Minnesota, I think this is just a focusing event to figure out what the next step is going to be in the conversation about how this process could be improved."

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