Spring Valley wind project back on track in Nevada

Nevada’s first wind farm, which was threatened to be derailed by an environmentalists’ lawsuit, is back on track for a July completion.

San Francisco-based Pattern Energy Group LP April 17 said that its Spring Valley Wind project has settled a lawsuit by reaching an agreement, together with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Center for Biological Diversity and Western Watersheds Project. The settlement was accepted by the Federal District court in Nevada on March 29, 2012, and the lawsuit was dismissed.

“We believe this positive settlement underscores Pattern’s commitment to being one of the leaders in minimizing environmental and cultural impacts from its wind farms,” said Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern.  “We are starting to see that all renewable energy projects, no matter how well-planned, are being questioned. We are pleased to be able to reach agreement with the concerned parties. The settlement should give more confidence to these concerned parties and the community that the project is well designed. We look forward to completing construction of the project and creating history by providing the great state of Nevada with its first homegrown source of clean wind energy.” 

The Center for Biological Diversity and Western Watersheds Project in January called Spring Valley a “poorly-sited 8000 acre industrial wind energy project, approved by the Department of the Interior with minimal environmental review.” The suit sought to overturn the BLM’s approval until a new environmental impact statement was done.

A spokesperson for Pattern could not provide details of the settlement, or say whether it would curtail operations to overcome objections.

Pattern has entered into a 20-year power purchase agreement with NV Energy for the sale of energy produced by Spring Valley Wind.

Construction of Spring Valley Wind – the first wind power project in Nevada – is currently underway and expected to be completed in July. The 150 MW project will use 66 Siemens (NYSE: SI) 2.3 MW wind turbines and will connect to an existing 230 kilovolt transmission line. Last year, pattern completed financing with an 18-year loan led by Siemens AG through its investment arm, Siemens Financial Services, Inc., and Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank and Union Bank, N.A..

The project is expected to generate more than $20 million in tax revenue for White Pine County and the state of Nevada’s Renewable Energy Fund over the next 20 years. It is also intended to help Nevada meet its 25%-by-2025 renewable portfolio standard (RPS).

Spring Valley Wind will be Pattern’s fourth operating wind project in North America and is one of a number of wind power projects that Pattern expects to bring into operation this year.