They say the third time is the charm. First it was called Goodhue Wind, LLC. Then in March of 2012 it was sold and became AWA Goodhue Wind, LLC. This past Oct., New Era Wind, LLC, owned by Peter J. Mastic Holdings, LLC of Nevada became the third generation of entities to hold ownership of the proposed 78 Megawatt commercial wind project.
Now that this proposed 50-turbine project in Goodhue County has changed hands and changed plans multiple times, can it still operate under the original resolution of support granted by the county back in 2008?
The point of contention is the resolution acknowledging Community-Based Energy Development. C-BED projects can sell energy at a higher rate than those without that status. In a letter to the state Public Utilities Commission, Steve Drazkowski (R-21B) outlined the requirements for C-BED status; a new renewable energy project that will either be a stand-alone project or part of a partnership under subdivision 8:
(1) has no single qualifying owner owning more than 15 percent of a C-BED wind energy project
(2) demonstrates that at least 51 percent of the gross revenues from a power purchase agreement over the life of the project will flow to qualifying owners and other local entities
(3) has a resolution of support adopted by the county board
The Goodhue County Commissioners sent a letter to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission at the end of November stating that opponents of the project assert that the principal elements of the original resolution no longer reflect the present reality of the ownership and operation of the Goodhue Wind project. The letter, which is part of a larger docket of publicly-filed information (docket 08-1233), said New Era Wind needed to resubmit its proposed project to the MNPUC and MN Department of Commerce Energy Facilities Permitting Division.
“Logically, any such grandfathered status cannot survive a total change of ownership when the C-BED status rests solely on a determination of where a project’s proceeds will be distributed,” a letter from the commissioners states.
Commissioner Dan Rechtzigel said the PUC acknowledged that they have received the request to review the C-BED status and will be giving the matter due consideration.
“They did not give us a timeline or any specifics, so I can’t say when the matter will be resolved,” he clarified.
Other irons in the fire
New Era Wind, LLC wants their Certificate of Need from the PUC to be extended to Dec. 31, 2013 without a rehearing or re-certification. The wind project declared a Force Majeure – defined as an affect or event that cannot be reasonably anticipated or controlled – on Dec. 6, 2011.
In relation to their agreement with Northern States Power and Xcel Energy to purchase wind power to be provided, the project has run through the one year time frame for the Force Majeure and is looking for an extension.
In a recent letter in the docket from New Era Wind, Attorney Christina Brusven notes that any action or inaction by a government authority that prevents or delays the projects performance despite the projects efforts to obtain such permits, constitutes Force Majeure. Milestone dates, including commercial operation date, must be adjusted to account for the delays caused. The result? New Era Wind is pursuing approvals to begin construction this year, and expects to reach commercial operation no later than the end of 2013.
The revised Avian and Bat Protection Plan, filed in Nov. has been reviewed by the PUC and is now in the initial comment period through Jan. 14. The reply comment period will extend to Jan. 28, after which the PUC will decide if the new plan does in fact comply with the site permit.
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