Permitting timeline: Within 180 days after acceptance of a complete application. The commission may extend this deadline for cause.
The PUC Role: The Commission reviews, helps build the record, and the Commissioners make the final decision about what appropriate action to take.
Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
Department of Commerce – Energy Environmental Review & Analysis
Office of Administrative Hearings – Administrative Law Judge
Once an application for a Large Wind Energy Conversion System is filed with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (Commission), the Commission will make a determination of whether the application meets all of the information requirements in statute and rule. Once an application has been accepted by the Commission as complete, the review process begins.
The Commission’s practice is to hold a joint meeting and open a written comment period early in the process with the Department of Commerce Energy Environmental Review and Analysis (EERA) unit, which acts as a technical advisor to the Commission. The purpose of the meeting and comment period is to explain Commission’s review process, the characteristic of the proposed project and to solicit initial input from members of the community and the public generally on possible conditions for inclusion in a draft permit.
After receiving public input, the Commission meets to consider whether to issue a draft site permit on the project. The issuance of a draft site permit is to allow for further application review and does not obligate the Commission to grant a permit to the applicant. If the Commission issues a draft site permit, a public hearing on the project and the draft site permit is held. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) from the Office of Administrative Hearings presides over the public hearing. The purpose of the hearing is to explain what is next in the site permit review process, and, most importantly, to receive public comments on the proposed project and its impacts. The Commission may elect, or any member of the public may request, to have a contested case hearing on the project or a specific issue related to it. If a contested case is held, the ALJ will preside over additional hearings and provide the Commission with a Report entitled Findings of fact, Conclusions of Law and Recommendation.
After receiving the Report from the ALJ, parties are able to file exceptions to the ALJ Report. The Commission will then review all the information in the record, including public comments, hold a public Agenda Meeting to discuss and decide whether to issue a site permit. The applicants cannot begin constructing the project unless a permit is issued.