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PUC makes wind farm’s demise official

RED WING — After years of delays and strong opposition by area residents, a controversial Goodhue County wind farm project has reached its end.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission accepted a request by developer New Era Wind to withdraw a certificate of need extension for the proposed 78-megawatt installation north of Zumbrota, according to an order released Wednesday.

The PUC further voted to revoke New Era’s site permit and close all related dockets.

Originally slated for operation at the end of 2011, the proposed $180 project encountered numerous safety and environmental concerns raised by the public.

Developers spent more than $15 million in a four-year regulatory battle to get the wind farm off the ground, but ultimately failed to receive state approval for a plan to protect avian and bat populations from turbine blades.

Xcel Energy, which agreed to purchase power generated by the wind farm, announced this spring that it intended to terminate its contracts with New Era over the delays. The utility filed a lawsuit to get a court order stating it was justified in ending the agreements.

Both parties later agreed mutually to end the contracts, according to a July 24 letter from Xcel to the PUC.

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