95MW Paynesville Wind Farm Gets State Approval

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved a certificate of need and a site permit for the proposed project, which spans about 15,000 acres in central Minnesota.

A proposed 95-megawatt wind farm in central Minnesota received approval from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) on Tuesday, which allows plans to move forward on the 15,000-acre project.

The state approved the site permit and certificate of need for the project at a meeting on Tuesday. A certificate of need is required by state law for wind projects that are considered “large energy facilities,” which are 50 megwatts or more.

Paynesville Wind, LLC-a wholly owned subsidiary of Edina-based Geronimo Wind Energy-is the developer of the wind farm.

The proposed project includes up to 60 wind turbines and is located in Stearns County in Zion, Paynesville, Spring Hill, and Lake Henry townships. It has the capacity to power 19,000 homes, according to Paynesville Wind's Web site.

Bret Eknes, a senior planner at the PUC, said in a Wednesday interview that the proposed wind farm still has a couple of hurdles to jump before construction can begin.

In addition to securing a power purchase agreement, the project must provide details of the specific locations of each turbine to make sure it aligns with the site plan. The farm's transmission system must also be approved by the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator.

A Wednesday morning phone call to a Paynesville Wind representative was not immediately returned, but media sources report that construction is slated to begin in the spring with service beginning late next year.

New wind farms in the state, including the Paynesville Wind project, are important pieces to Minnesota renewable energy initiative. The PUC has approved 7 “large energy facility” projects in 2010, for around 1,370 megawatts. The state's Renewable Energy Standard requires that electric utilities supply 12 percent of energy for Minnesota consumers from renewable sources by 2012, 20 percent by 2020, and 25 percent by 2025.