Controversial solar farm gets okay; Families near Marshall worry about it ruining their rural lifestyle
Published 9:32 am Friday, April 1, 2016
By Mark Steil
In a unanimous vote, the state Public Utilities Commission has approved a controversial solar energy project in southwest Minnesota.
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Xcel Energy will buy the power produced on the 500-acre, 62 megawatt solar farm near Marshall, Minn. It’ll be able to produce enough electricity to supply 15,000 homes.
Several families near the site oppose the project, saying it would ruin their rural lifestyle and lower property values.
“We saw no evidence whatsoever in the proceeding that NextEra sought out non-prime farmland for the purposes of their development,” said the families’ attorney Court Anderson. “And in spite of that the commissioners apparently felt othewise, and felt like their obligation was meet here.”
The PUC ruled they lack grounds to block the project by Florida-based NextEra Energy. In a statement, NextEra officials said they were pleased with the PUC decision.
An attorney for the objecting families said a lawsuit is their only way left to block the project, but said no decision has been made on whether to file legal action.