Because the size of the West Fork Wind project has changed, an office representing Indiana consumers is not ready to recommend that it be exempted from regulation by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.
West Fork Wind is a project that includes wind turbines that would make electricity. It’s been proposed for areas in northern and western Fayette County. It’s being developed by NextEra Energy, which characterizes itself as a power generating and marketing company.
West Fork Wind had asked the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to decline to regulate it, saying that because it is not going to sell electricity to retail customers (homes and businesses) it is not subject to IURC regulation. West Fork Wind says it is an exempt wholesale generator, not a utility. IURC has declined to regulate least eight other wind generating projects since 2006.
A hearing on West Fork Wind’s request is scheduled for at 9:30 a.m. April 19 at the IURC office in Indianapolis.
If the request granted, it would mean West Fork Wind would not need to obtain a “certificate of public convenience and necessity” from the IURC.
In that hearing, the viewpoints of the public are to be represented by the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor. That office conducts its own investigation into requests like this and makes recommendations to the IURC.
The OUCC has filed a preliminary document with the IURC, saying that it is not ready to recommend that the IURC decline jurisdiction. The OUCC notes that the project originally included erecting 98 wind towers in Rush and Henry counties but has now shrunk to include only 41 towers in Fayette County. (The figure of 52 towers in a Tuesday article was not correct.)
The OUCC believes West Fork Wind should submit the results of new studies on the projects potential effects on the environment and answer several other questions. Studies would include a review of natural features and drainage, potential effects on endangered species including bats, effects on bird life, an acoustic monitoring survey, a check of cultural records and a study of the impact on the PJM regional power supply system.
The OUCC also wants to know whether West Fork Wind has agreements from any utilities who would buy the electricity generated by the project.
According to the OUCC, West Fork Wind will have until April 11 to submit answers.
If the IURC declines regulation, West Fork Wind would be subject to county and federal laws.
West Fork Wind’s case
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.
To review documents in the case, go to the IURC website, iurc.portal.in.gov/legal-case-details/?id=86c43f0d-150d-e811-811d-1458d04eaba0
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: www.in.gov/oucc/2361.htm