Minnesota is to formalise wind farm siting rules it has had in place for nearly seven years. Interim procedures for wind developers seeking state permits for projects larger than 5 MW have been in place since Northern States Power, now Xcel Energy, first released a wind power solicitation in 1995. The rules the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board (MEQB) is proposing to adopt in January, without public hearings, are largely unchanged from those used in earlier decisions, says Larry Hartman, MEQB's planning director, and he expects they will pass into the record without opposition. MEQB approved seven projects under the interim rules, including two that have yet to begin construction: EnXco's 80 MW Chanarambie project and Navitas Energy's 150 MW wind farm, which received permits last spring. The rules will outline the criteria the board uses to designate sites, information required in a permit application, procedures describing MEQB's application process, environmental review requirements, procedures in case of permit violations and the fee structure for obtaining a permit. Even with environmental reviews built into the process, permitting is a relatively short and easy process of 60 to 90 days, Hartman says.
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