Wind turbines

A giant crane installs wind turbines on a site near Trimont. Sibley Wind Substation, once planned for southwest of Winthrop in Sibley County, and Comfrey Wind Energy, planned for west of Comfrey in Brown and Cottonwood counties, saw their permits revoked by the Public Utilities Commission. File photo

Two wind power projects in the region are at an end, at least for now.

Both Sibley Wind Substation, planned for southwest of Winthrop, and Comfrey Wind Energy, planned for west of Comfrey, saw their licenses from the Public Utilities Commission revoked. The commission took the action Thursday in St. Paul.

Sibley Wind had asked for its construction permit to be withdrawn. Steve Estes, president of Star Distributed Energy, made the request based on ongoing opposition to the project based on bird and bat kill concerns. Estes told The Free Press that the company would seek a meeting with opposition members to “try to find a solution to answer their concerns.”

Barb Wenninger, a member of the opposition group, said the company has not reached out yet. But the group was pleased with the decision.

“We're happy that it's come to a close,” she said.

She doubted there would be any compromise on siting, as the group believes the place is a poor location for a wind farm.

“We think it's the wrong place because there's flooding in the area, it's too close to homes and there's wildlife that flies through here in migration and some that nest here even,” she said. “I don't see what they could do to change the risk to the wildlife here.”

A call to Estes on Monday was not returned.

Sibley Wind first applied for a construction permit in 2008. The project, which included 10 turbines, was planned for an area covering about 1,000 acres two miles southwest of Winthrop in Cornish Township in Sibley County. The project was rated at 20 megawatts, which would actually produce enough electricity to power about 3,800 homes.

Comfrey Wind first applied for a construction permit in 2007. The project was rated at 31.5 megawatts and included 17 turbines on nearly 4,000 acres in Bashaw Township in Brown County and Selma Township in Cottonwood County just west of Comfrey.

The project had been granted two extensions and sought to be covered by the federal Production Tax Credit, so began some construction before the end of 2014. But the state Department of Commerce said in July this construction came before some compliance filings with the commission.

In a reply to the department's comments, Comfrey Wind Energy LLC President Pete Samuelson wrote, “Comfrey asks that the Commission understand and empathize that Comfrey had no choice but to perform minimal construction work, without holding a pre-construction meeting, prior to the end of 2014 to qualify for the PTC.”

On Monday, Samuelson said it wouldn't be appropriate for him to comment before he received the revocation order from the commission.

Follow Nancy Madsen on Twitter @nmadsenmfp.

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