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permitting assistance for partial repowering of wind facility

permitting assistance for partial repowering of wind facility
client
Allete Clean Energy
location
Lake Benton, Minnesota

The Lake Benton 1 windfarm in Lincoln County, Minnesota, was the first large wind-energy project built outside California, and one of the first permitted and constructed in this state. In the late 1990s, Barr provided wetland delineations, geotechnical investigations, and foundation and structural design for the site, as well as assistance with erosion control and an NPDES permit.

As part of refurbishing nearly 400 wind turbines in Minnesota and Iowa, the current facility owner, Allete Clean Energy, applied for an amendment to the original 1998 site permit for windfarm construction and operation. By replacing turbine blades, gearboxes, and generators, the company will boost turbine performance and reliability and extend the life of the windpower project. In addition, new fiber-optic connections, servers, and data-acquisition and -management systems will improve turbine efficiency and overall facility operations.

Barr worked with the Minnesota Department of Commerce and Allete Clean Energy to determine permit-application requirements and schedules, manage development and submittal of the amendment application, and consult with regulatory agencies on possible impacts to wetlands, protected species and their habitat, and/or historic properties.

Our assistance included reviewing threatened and endangered plant and wildlife species; conducting evaluations of noise levels; managing shadow-flicker studies; and analyzing the need to notify the Federal Aviation Administration of the proposed changes. 

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved the partial-repowering permit—one of the first two such permits issued in the state—in May 2018.