April 5, 2011
North Dakota

Wind developer disputes North Dakota project termination

Article by: DAVID SHAFFER , Star Tribune , www.startribune.com 5 April 2011Article by: DAVID SHAFFER , Star Tribune , www.startribune.com 5 April 2011

Xcel Energy Inc. won’t be getting out a proposed $400 million North Dakota wind farm so easily.

The project’s developer, enXco, said Tuesday that it disputes Xcel’s canceling of the project because of threats to two endangered birds.

In a statement released by its French parent company, enXco said it intended to fight the termination of the 150-megawatt Merricourt Wind Project announced last week by Xcel.

The statement didn’t say how or in what way the company would dispute the matter.

Xcel said Tuesday it would be inappropriate to comment further on the dispute with enXco. Xcel had signed an agreement in 2008 for enXco to build the project. It was to have been completed this year.

Xcel dropped the project last week, saying it would be required to mitigate threats to the whooping crane and the piping plover, a step that carried “uncertainty in the cost and timing.”

But enXco said it “continues to be actively working on these issues and considers the required answers have been provided to [Xcel]. For these reasons, enXco disputes the relevance and materiality of these concerns to [Xcel’s] obligations under the parties’ agreements.”

The release added that federal authorities were concerned “about the impact of the project on bird species’ migration patterns.”

The whooping crane, the tallest bird in North America, is down to 400 in the wild, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The piping plover is listed as endangered in the Great Lakes area, with just 63 known nesting pairs in 2008.

Xcel spokeswoman Patti Nystuen said canceling the project would not cause the company to fall short of the state’s renewable-energy mandate.

EnXco, the American subsidiary of EDF Energies Nouvelles, completed another Xcel wind project last year, the 201 megawatt Nobles wind project in southwestern Minnesota.

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2011/04/05/wind-developer-disputes-north-dakota-project-termination/