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Judge dismisses lawsuit against Xcel over utility's canceled wind farm project

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A new federal judge ruling seems to back Xcel Energy's 2011 decision to halt a $400 million wind farm project in North Dakota that posed a potential risk to two protected birds, the Star Tribune reports.

U.S. District Judge Michael Davis dismissed a lawsuit that had been brought against Xcel by the developer of the 100-turbine Merricourt project, which the Minneapolis-based utility canceled over concern that turbine blades could be a danger to whooping cranes and piping plovers.

The developer, EDF Renewable Energy, had sued Xcel for up to $103 million in losses.

In a Securities and Exchange filing, Xcel had said uncertainty and costs to reduce the threat to birds was “a major factor” in terminating the project.

Back in 2011, the decision stunned local North Dakota officials.

"That hurts us," Ellendale Mayor Don Flaherty, told the Star Tribune.

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