ALLETE Clean Energy, the current facility owner at Lake Benton windfarm, retained Barr and the Minnesota Department of Commerce when seeking to retrofit nearly 400 wind turbines at this site. As part of the retrofit, ALLETE Clean Energy applied for an amendment to the original 1998 site permit for windfarm construction and operation. Replacing turbine blades, gearboxes, and generators will boost turbine performance and reliability and extend the life of the facility. Additionally, new fiber-optic connections, servers, and data-acquisition and management systems will improve turbine efficiency and overall facility operations.
Barr’s assistance included reviewing threatened and endangered plant and wildlife species; conducting evaluations of sound levels; managing shadow-flicker studies; and analyzing the need to notify the Federal Aviation Administration of the proposed changes. Because Minnesota guidelines for turbine siting have changed since the original site permit was issued, we also evaluated the differences between the initial and new standards to provide our client with options for the permitting strategy.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved the partial-repowering permit—one of the first two such permits issued in the state.