A developer trying to start up a 200MW wind farm in North Dakota by the end of this year may have to wait for federal regulators to weigh in on its complaint over the availability and cost of transmission.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) yesterday said the issues that Minnesota-based Geronimo Wind Energy raised in a complaint last year were “complex” and could not be resolved based on the existing record. The agency ordered the start of hearings but also encouraged the wind farm and other companies involved in the dispute to reach a settlement.
Geronimo in its complaint asked FERC to find that a 345kV transmission line it wants to use for its 200MW Courtenay wind farm would be subject to tariffs that apply in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) region. The company is trying to put the wind farm into service by 31 December 2015 to meet a power purchase agreement with Xcel Energy.
The Minnkota Power Cooperative wants to charge extra fees on the line, of which it owns the majority, and require approval for its use because the utility is not a member of the midcontinent grid. The complaint in contrast says a 1966 transmission contract gave Otter Tail Power the right to use the 345kV line if capacity was available. Otter Tail became a MISO member in 2001, at which time Geronimo says those transmission rights transferred into the midcontinent grid.
FERC in its order yesterday did not rule on the merits of the complaint. The commission said it would need to not only interpret the 1966 agreement but also review the effect the matter could have on MISO’s operations.
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