Environmental assessment for wind farm present to board

Published 10:17 am Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The public and the county board have two weeks to review a draft of the environmental assessment for the transmission line and substation for the Pleasant Valley Wind Farm.

Renewable Energy Systems Americas presented a draft of the assessment to board during Tuesday’s regular meeting, and the draft will be available to the public through the Environmental Services office.

RES Americas had HDR Engineering prepare the assessment to address the concerns voiced by the public at a Nov. 5 public scoping hearing, along with additional written comments from the public. The assessment includes information on the human and environmental impacts of the proposed project and addresses methods to reduce the impacts.

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To receive a copy of the environmental assessment or offer more comments on the document, people can contact Environmental Services Director Angie Knish at angiek@co.mower.mn.us.

The board accepted the scoping document last week. If the board will accept the draft of the environmental assessment at Dec. 17 if it deems it adequate, or the board could request more work be done. Once the draft is accepted, the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board will publish the assessment online and the public will have 10 days to submit comments on the final environmental assessment. RES Americas are aiming for the final environmental assessment to be published on Jan. 6, 2014.

RES Americas is developing Pleasant Valley for Xcel Energy, which will buy the wind farm once it’s completed. The agreement with Xcel calls for a 200 MW wind farm of 100 2-MW turbines over 35,000 acres — 88 in Mower County and 12 in Dodge County.

The turbines are already approved by the state, but the Mower County board is the permitting authority for the transmission line for the transmission line and substation for the project. Comments regarding the towers will not be addressed in the environmental assessment.

Auditor-treasurer’s office change fund reduced

The board unanimously approved a plan to reduce the change fund in the auditor-treasurer’s office.

The change fund was reduced from $2,000 to $600 after the Office of the State Auditor is recommending the Mower County auditor-treasurer’s office do more to protect county funds in July.

The state office filed a report in July after an investigation into a $500 cash shortage discovered in the auditor-treasurer’s office on Oct. 11, 2012. During a daily balancing procedure, county staff found $500 missing. The report stated Groh then balanced the shortage out of his office’s $2,000 change fund. The county reported the loss to law enforcement Nov. 26, 2012, and to the Office of the State Auditor on Nov. 27, 2012.

Among other changes, the state recommended the change fund only be used for making change.