US developer Wasatch Wind has postponed the completion of a 100MW project in Wyoming until 2013 due to legal appeals by an opposition group, which have forced it to terminate a power-purchase agreement (PPA) with the state’s largest electricity utility.
“We simply feel it’s best to allow the legal process to play out before proceeding with construction,” says Michelle Stevens, senior vice-president of communications at Wasatch. The affected 50MW Pioneer Wind Park 1 and nearby 50MW Pioneer Wind Park 2 are fully permitted, she says.
Stevens tells Recharge that Wasatch could not comply with contractual terms requiring Pioneer Wind Park 1 to begin delivering electricity to Rocky Mountain Power in October. Construction was due to begin this summer.
The Utah-based developer has prevailed in previous legal challenges by the Northern Laramie Range Alliance (NLRA), a powerful central Wyoming landowners’ group that includes oil and gas interests. The alliance says the project would depress property values, generate noise and visual pollution, and damage roads during construction.
Its latest appeal is before the Wyoming Supreme Court, which is expected to rule this summer. The NLRA is challenging permits issued by a county commission and the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council, arguing that Wasatch did not meet a council requirement that it has enough money to build, operate and decommission the wind farm. Stevens denies this.
The developer hopes a favourable decision will allow it to finish Pioneer Wind Park 2 by 31 December, when it is scheduled to begin delivering power to the utility.
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