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New Era abandons plan for Goodhue County wind farm

RED WING -- New Era Wind will no longer pursue a turbine wind farm in Goodhue County.

Owner Peter Mastic formally made the request to abandon the project in a letter to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission made public Tuesday.

The company asked the PUC to terminate its site permit, while withdrawing a controversial avian and bat protection plan that ultimately stalled the multimillion-dollar project.

"It's probably a couple years overdue," said Marie McNamara, a founder of Goodhue Wind Truth, a citizen group that had been fighting the wind farm's construction.

She called the ongoing work done by the PUC and state employees "a waste of time and money."

Opposition from citizens groups centered largely on impacts to wildlife, including eagle and bat populations. The PUC rejected New Era's plan to protect the animals, causing a delay in construction.

Xcel Energy, which originally held power-purchasing agreements with New Era, threatened legal action this summer over contract violations caused by the delay. The agreements were voluntarily terminated shortly after the suit was filed.

The $180 million project was originally slated to begin operation at the end of 2011.

Mastic could not be reached for comment.