Landowners challenge Dodge County wind project

A massive wind farm project is in the works in Dodge, Steele and Mower county.
Published: May. 13, 2022 at 6:20 PM CDT
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ASHLAND TOWNSHIP, Minn. (KTTC) – A massive wind farm project is in the works in Dodge, Steele and Mower county. The project is an approximate $400 million investment for the counties.

NextEra Energy is planning to build a wind farm with 79 wind turbines south of Claremont and a 27 mile long transmission from Claremont to east of Sargeant. The project would bring in 400 construction jobs and between $970,000 - $1,180,000 in annual production taxes.

But not everybody is onboard with the project.

“If we’re going to put up 160 foot towers, that’s going to fragment this property it’s going to not allow it to be utilized,” Aaron Tempel, who owns 160 acres of land in Ashland Township said.

Tempel owns a wetland with his brothers that’s home to several different types of plants and birds. He says the project could disrupt the ecosystem.

“They say they’re a green company, but yet why would you then come in and try to keep a property like this to exist,” he said.

Tempel also raising concerns about the company pleading guilty to killing and wounding bald eagles.

“That was concerning, the taking and killing of bald eagles,” he said.

NextEra says the company has been working closely with the Department of Natural Resources on the project.

“We continue that coordination with The Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to have good conversations about the best way to maximize without unintentionally having any other impacts,” Dodge County Wind project director Mark Lennox said.

The company is offering approximately $83,000,000 in payments to landowners, but for Tempel, no amount is enough.

“To us, it’s not about the money. It’s about keeping this piece of property that we have,” Tempel said.

The wind project’s application is under review with the state. The company hopes to have a decision hearing at the Public Utility Commission by early next year, and to begin construction by this time next year.

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