Minnesota Public Utilities Commission staff is recommending that the commission allow it extra time to look at an application by Paynesville Wind LLC to allow extra time to start building a 95-MW wind facility.
The proposed facility is located in Stearns County. In January 2011 the commission issued an order granting Paynesville Wind a certificate of need. The order assumed an in-service date in the second quarter 2011.
On Oct. 2, Paynesville Wind submitted a joint petition in the certificate of need docket and site permit docket seeking approval to: extend the in-service date in the certificate of need proceeding to Dec. 31, 2014, without additional hearings: and to amend the site permit to allow additional time to procure a power purchase agreement and begin construction.
The application is due for consideration at a Nov. 8 commission hearing and commission staff wrote in a Nov. 1 pre-hearing memo: “Staff is proposing a variance with respect to the timing requirement in this rule. Specifically, staff is proposing that the Commission vary (extend) the 45 day timing requirement to allow sufficient time to review the request, allow for due process and to allow both petitions (filed jointly) to be considered by the Commission at the same time. Staff believes that a variance of time to consider the change in circumstances is reasonable and consistent with the Paynesville Wind’s long-term schedule for the project. Staff will bring the matter(s) before the Commission as soon as practicable.”
Paynesville Wind said in the Oct. 2 application that it needs the extra time to nail down power and transmission interconnection agreements and to see whether a federal renewable energy tax credit is extended. It said it was close to nailing down a power sales contract in the second quarter of this year, but uncertainty about the federal production tax credit program, due to expire at the end of this year unless Congress extends it, stalled that effort. The company said that it, like other wind power developers, has also had trouble working its way through the Midwest ISO interconnection review process.