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Commission to consider expansion of Corriedale wind project

CHEYENNE – After receiving initial approval in July, the planned Corriedale Wind Energy Project could soon be expanded to include an additional five wind turbines.

The expansion from 16 to 21 turbines will be considered by the Wyoming Public Service Commission during its meeting this afternoon in Cheyenne.

The application for the wind farm, submitted by Black Hills Power and its subsidiary, Cheyenne Light, Fuel and Power Company (aka Black Hills Energy), was approved in July. The wind farm initially had a capacity of 40 megawatts per hour, split evenly between the two companies. The proposed expansion would add 12.5 megawatts per hour to the project’s capacity, with that additional energy going only to Black Hills Power.

The wind farm is expected to open off the Otto Road exit of Interstate 80 west of Cheyenne in October 2020. Including the proposed expansion, the project is estimated to cost $78.6 million.

Through the project’s Renewable Ready Service Tariff, commercial, industrial and governmental customers who use more than 300,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year will be eligible to access energy generated by the wind farm. Participants would be able to enter into contracts with the company to access renewable energy for periods of five to 25 years.

“There is no requested change in rates under the Renewable Ready Service Tariffs as a result of the proposed expansion of the Corriedale project,” Black Hills Power spokeswoman Laurie Farkas said in a statement.

In the notice of the proposed expansion, the companies list substantial public interest in the project as the main reason to expand it. Since the project gained approval in July, the companies conducted an initial four-week subscription period, during which eligible customers submitted applications requesting service for their energy needs.

“Black Hills Power received substantially more interest than available from its 20 (megawatts of) undivided interest in the Corriedale project,” the notice states. “With this strong response from customers, Black Hills Power began exploring the possibility of expanding the Corriedale project capacity to accommodate a larger portion of the applications from customers.”

Black Hills Power has asked the commission to deem a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity unnecessary for the expansion and to waive the normal 10-business-day response time, instead asking the commission to decide by Dec. 13.

The companies argue since they already received a certificate for the initial project, Wyoming statute permits them to increase the project’s capacity without obtaining an additional certificate.

While the commission will consider the plan today, the expansion will also hinge on a decision from the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, as customers in both states will be able to use energy from the project.

“The utilities’ interest in expanding the Corriedale project to 52.5 (megawatts) is contingent upon SDPUC approval,” the notice states.

The Public Service Commission will consider the request during its meeting, which begins at 1:30 p.m. today in its hearing room, 2515 Warren Ave., Suite 300, in Cheyenne.