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Are Wind Companies Rushing Projects to Scoop Up Subsidies?

A planned industrial wind turbine project in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa has hit a snag.

On Monday, May 14, 2018, an administrative law judge ruled the Freeborn Wind Farm failed to demonstrate that its planned 200-megawatt operation in southeast Freeborn County and north Iowa would meet Minnesota noise standards, according to the Albert Lea Tribune.

The judge issued a 171-page report, which will serve as a recommendation to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) when they consider whether to allow the project to move forward.

The administrative law judge recommended the PUC either deny Freeborn Wind’s application, or require the company to show how the wind project will comply with Minnesota’s noise standards.

According to the Albert Lea Tribune:

“If the project is approved, Xcel Energy reportedly plans to start construction on the wind farm in fall 2019, with commercial operations still commencing in the fourth quarter of 2020. The time when the wind farm will become operational is expected to depend on weather, permitting and other development activities.”

The timeline here is crucial because the wind Production Tax Credit, a subsidy paid to wind developers for the electricity they produce, declines every year before eventually expiring in  2020.

Multiple wind investors, including Warren Buffet, are rushing to begin construction on wind turbines before they can no longer qualify for the subsidy.

It will be interesting to see how the PUC rules on this case. Hopefully they don’t simply rubber stamp the project in order to allow Xcel to maximize their take from federal taxpayers.

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