March 27, 2018

Wind farm seeks out of state regulation

By Bob Hansen | Connersville News-Examiner | Mar 27, 2018 |

The company planning to build a wind farm in part of Fayette County is asking the state not to regulate it as an electric utility. Since 2006, at least eight other wind farms have received the treatment as West Fork Wind wants.

In a petition, West Fork Wind has told the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission that it is not a public utility because it will not be selling electricity directly to any retail consumers. The petition states that West Fork Wind is an exempt wholesale generator, not subject to regulation by the IURC.

If the IURC declines jurisdiction, it means West Fork Wind would not need to obtain a state “certificate of public convenience and necessity” in order to build its wind farm. As a wholesale generator, it would need authorization from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission before sending power into the wholesale market.

An evidentiary hearing on the IURC petition is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. April 19 in Indianapolis. According to the IURC, West Fork Wind will present its reasons for asking the IURC for its determination. The Office of Utlility Consumer Counselor will present any opposing evidence.

A group that has opposed wind development in Fayette County and elsewhere has stated by email that it is encouraging people to attend the IURC hearing. A spokeswoman for the IURC told the Connersville News-Examiner that anyone can attend the hearing but that public comment is not accepted at that time. Comments must be made in writing before the hearing by submitting them to the Office of Consumer Counselor.

An email from the Henry County “No Wind” Group states:

“NextEra is, most likely, counting on us country bumpkins to be unaware, and unfamiliar with legal lingo. This hearing should be attended!

“This affects the NextEra / West Fork Wind project in Henry, Rush and Fayette Counties, but it could set a huge precedent. YIKES!

“Any lawyers out there to analyze this effort by NextEra???? Is this LEGAL???? Do we need legal representation during this hearing???

“Considering the State of Indiana’s stance that Wind Energy issues should be left up to individual counties, this would entail the STATE … stepping in to take away local control. West Fork Wind is NOT a utility.”

West Fork Wind states in its petition that the IURC has declined to regulate power companies in at least eight wind farm projects since 2006 because they are not utilities in the sense of setting rates that would be paid by consumers. Power generated by West Fork Wind would be sold to wholesale buyers, which are the companies and utilities that provide electricity to consumers.

After the evidentiary hearing, both sides in the case would have time to submit all their evidence to the IURC administrative judge and an IURC hearing commissioner. They would have time to review the case before issuing an order setting out the IURC’s ruling.

The West Fork Wind development would include about 52 towers in Fayette County with wind turbines on top of them. It’s a project of NextEra Energy Resources, based in Juno, Florida. The company is seeking location permits at present from Fayette County.

The project as originally put forth would include sites in Rush and Henry counties. Action has been stalled in those counties.

Written comments only

An evidentiary hearing on West Fork Wind’s petition is scheduled at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, April 19, in the PNC Center, 101 W. Washington St. Room 224, Indianapolis IN 46204. West Fork Wind does not want to be regulated as a public utility.

Comments about the request should be made in writing by mail, fax or online to the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, c/o PNC Center, 115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South, Indianapolis, Indiana 46204.

For guidelines on submitting comments, go to the OUCC website:

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