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Federal commission denies wind farm developer’s request

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has denied a request from the developer behind wind turbines proposed for Cass and Miami counties that would have allowed it to easily change where it connects with an electric transmission grid.

The Feb. 9 FERC order addresses Harvest Wind Energy LLC’s petition for a waiver of PJM Interconnection LLC’s Open Access Transmission Tariff. Harvest Wind Energy is the turbine project proposed by Renewable Energy Systems Americas, or RES, in northern Cass and Miami counties while PJM Interconnection operates a regional electric transmission system.

The waiver would have allowed Harvest Wind Energy to change its point of interconnection without requiring additional evaluation under the tariff, according to the FERC order. The denial won’t necessarily derail the project, but will likely delay it.

Harvest Wind Energy intends to interconnect with transmission lines owned by AEP Indiana Michigan Transmission Company Inc. using a switching station planned to be constructed about 39 miles between switching stations near Dumont and Greentown, the order continues.

Before initiating a facilities study under the PJM Interconnection tariff, the order states AEP notified the original developer of the wind project of concerns regarding the parcel initially being considered for the switching station.

Those concerns included infrastructure that would have to be moved and potential proximity to wooded wetlands that would require additional approvals and mitigation, according to the order. In light of those concerns, the order states AEP and the original wind developer agreed to plan for the switching station to be constructed in an adjacent location.

RES bought Harvest Wind Energy after the new switching station location was selected, the order continues, adding it was later discovered that the new location shared many of the same issues affecting the first.

Harvest Wind Energy approached PJM Interconnection about another new location for the switching station almost 3 miles from the second consideration, according to the order.

But PJM Interconnection indicated its tariff would not permit a change in the point of interconnection location at the stage interconnection studies were currently in, the order states.

Harvest Wind Energy maintained an interconnection construction service agreement and the project’s interconnection study reports refer to the point of interconnection being about 39 miles from the Dumont and Greentown substations, which would still apply to the newly desired location, according to the order.

Also part of Harvest Wind Energy’s request for the waiver was the claim that the determination for the second switching station location was an error made “in good faith,” the order states.

The order recalls PJM Interconnection’s indication that if the waiver was granted, PJM Interconnection would need at least six months to do a new facilities study on the new project location, disrupting its “overall interconnection process” while causing “harm to other interconnection customers…”

The timing surrounding the discovery of issues that compromise the original point of interconnection demonstrated “a lack of due diligence,” on Harvest Wind Energy’s part, according to the order.

FERC also indicated it agrees with PJM Interconnection’s stance that changing the point of interconnection “at this late stage would introduce uncertainty that could well impact other… customers and that such restudy of the point of interconnection would require” more time and evaluation.

The order refers to PJM Interconnection’s indication “that while it appreciates that Harvest Wind may have a concern regarding the delay,” the tariff does not prevent the developer from seeking its desired point of interconnection through a new interconnection request.

Brad Lila, director of development with RES’ Minneapolis office, said by phone Friday that Harvest Wind Energy will likely pursue a new interconnection request, adding it remains unknown what kind of effect the resulting delay would have on the project.