Cottage Grove City Council idles wind turbine request for second timeA Cottage Grove business hoping to cut its energy bills by harnessing the wind for electricity will be forced to wait after City Council members voted a second time to delay a decision on approving its proposal.
A Cottage Grove business hoping to cut its energy bills by harnessing the wind for electricity will be forced to wait after City Council members voted a second time last Wednesday to delay a decision on approving its proposal.
Council members voted again to table a measure that would clear the way for Werner Electrical Supply to construct a more than 100-foot-tall wind turbine to help power its growing Cottage Grove facility. The council also directed staff to write language for a second proposed location for the generator that the company says wouldn’t meet its needs.
The alternate site would, however, move it farther than the currently-proposed 430-foot buffer between the turbine and row of homes that abuts the Werner property on 95th Street in the city’s industrial park. That is what residents who have spoken out at multiple public meetings on the proposal have said they would like to see.
Nearby homeowners have complained the turbine could lower the value of their properties. They submitted a petition to the city last month urging consideration of a location farther from their residential properties.
“What Werner wants to do is very noble. There are so many positive reasons this should go forward,” resident John Magee said. “But the risk is with the homeowners.”
The company is seeking a variance from the city’s ordinance requiring a turbine to sit more than 1,300 feet from the boundary of a city park; Werner’s proposed turbine would sit 230 feet from the border of Hamlet Park.
The proposal, however, meets all other requirements under the city’s ordinances that were updated in 2009. Because of that, council members cannot reject the application based on the objections of homeowners, said City Administrator Ryan Schroeder.
The city’s Planning and Environmental commissions and Economic Development Authority have all recommended approval of the plan.
Werner has said a wind analysis showed that moving the turbine from to the northeast corner of its property – farther away from the nearby neighborhood but closer to Hamlet Park – would significantly dampen the amount of energy it would produce.
“Based on that data, there would be a definite loss of efficiency [by moving the turbine] to the northeast,” said Ben Granley, director of operations at Werner’s Cottage Grove facility. Granley said the company would likely scrap its plans to construct the turbine in Cottage Grove if council members approved only the alternate location and look to install a generator at one of its other metro locations.
That, Mayor Myron Bailey said in an interview, would send a bad message to other Cottage Grove businesses.
“If [Werner does] what they’re supposed to do, and they’ve asked for certain variances and something can be circumvented to prevent it, it’s not a good message to the business community,” he said.
The council will reconsider the permit application at a future meeting.