Friday, September 15, 2006

FAA gives go-ahead to three Minnesota wind projects

FAA gives go-ahead to three Minnesota wind projects
Posted 9/14/2006 7:56 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration has given the go-ahead to three Minnesota wind power projects, after concluding that they don't interfere with military radar.
The approvals were announced Thursday by Sen. Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican who urged the FAA to approve the projects. The FAA confirmed the projects had been given the go-ahead.

More than a dozen wind developers in the Midwest had been told earlier this year that their projects might not get safety permits because of the potential impact on military radar.

The three Minnesota projects that have been approved are: PPM Energy, enXco Energy and Wind Energy Developers.

Jan Johnson, a spokeswoman for PPM Energy, said the company got a determination of "no hazard" from the FAA a couple of weeks ago. That will pave the way for construction to begin this year on a 150-megawatt project in Lincoln County in Minnesota, and Brookings County, South Dakota, she said.

Johnson said that the project would provide enough energy to power about 45,000 homes a year.

Officials with enXco Energy and Wind Energy Developers did not return telephone messages left Thursday.

The enXco project would be built near Chandler. Spokespeople for the FAA and Coleman's office weren't immediately sure where the Wind Energy Developers project is located. The company's website and state and local government records indicate the company is developing projects in both Cottonwood and Murray counties.

"Hundreds of millions of dollars in wind development, much-needed jobs in southwestern Minnesota, and abundant clean, renewable energy can now become a reality thanks to the FAA clearing the way for three Minnesota wind projects," Coleman said in a statement.

FAA spokeswoman Diane Spitaliere confirmed the three had been given clearance.

"There were some issues with those projects, but we worked very closely with the applicants to mitigate any safety factors so that they could go ahead with their projects," said Spitaliere, who did not have details on the specifics of the mitigation.

The American Wind Energy Association, a Washington trade group, ranks Minnesota fourth in the nation in the amount of wind energy installed.