West Virginia PSC approves Beech Ridge Energy II wind project

The West Virginia Public Service Commission on June 19 approved a siting certificate for the Beech Ridge Energy II LLC wind turbine facility located in Greenbrier County.

Local support for this project far outnumbered the contrary viewpoints, the commission said. For instance, at a public hearing in Rainelle, no one spoke in opposition to the proposed project. Nor did anyone speak in opposition to the project at the evidentiary hearing.

In August 2012, BRE II filed the application for this siting certificate. The BRE II facility will be adjacent to a BRE wind facility now in operation. BRE II is owned by Invenergy Wind Development North America LLC.

BWE II proposed to construct an approximate 53.46 MW, but not to exceed 85.5 MW, facility consisting of up to 33 wind turbines, each with a rated capacity of 1.62 MW, but not to exceed 2.5 MW, and certain ancillary facilities on a tract located in Greenbrier County about two miles northwest of Duo, two miles east of Quinwood and seven miles north of Rupert. The turbines will generally be placed along Beech Ridge, Clear Creek Mountain, Pollock Mountain, Huggins Ridge and Blue Ridge on land owned by MeadWestvaco Corp.

BRE II will construct an energy collection system to deliver power to the BRE substation. The existing 138-kV transmission line from the BRE substation to the interconnection at the Grassy Falls substation of Monongahela Power, a FirstEnergy (NYSE: FE) company, near Nettie in Nicholas County, is sufficiently sized to carry the energy produced by BRE II’s facility together with the energy produced from BRE. Thus no new transmission line is necessary.

The electricity generated by both projects, BRE and BRE II, will not exceed the 186-MW interconnect that was approved by the commission in the BRE proceeding last decade.

Invenergy Wind Development North America also owns BRE, which obtained a siting certificate for a 186-MW wind facility. BRE II wound up being the unbuilt portion of that project. BRE had to fight through litigation to get the first part of its project built, with the delay on the now-BRE II part of the project due to a lengthy process of getting a federal approval related to the endangered Indiana bat.

BRE II expects to use a General Electric 1.6-100 wind turbine (G.E. 1.6), with a four-piece tower that measures 315 feet, or 96 meters, and a rotor diameter of 328 feet, or 100 meters. The final choice of turbine model will be based on turbine efficiency, availability and pricing, as well as the ability to change the cut-in speeds.

BRE II asserted that it will be the entity responsible for the construction and operation of the facility and will operate the facility as an exempt wholesale generator under Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rules.

BRE II estimated that the construction cost of its facility would be about $115m. BRE II said that funding will be a combination of permanent non-recourse project debt and equity.

The commission noted that this project can help meet a massive need for new renewable energy projects in the PJM Interconnection region. “PJM has performed an analysis for generation scenarios to meet renewable portfolio standards (RPS) within the PJM footprint, which provided installed capacity nameplates (maximum output for facility or energy source) necessary to meet state targets,” the PSC said. “In 2021, 32,000 MW of wind will be required to satisfy the targets for renewable portfolio standards in the PJM footprint, and in 2026, 41,000 MW of wind will be required. PJM also provided the installed capacity need in the corresponding forward years. After subtracting both wind and solar capacity, there are still 6,000 MW and 13,296 MW of additional capacity (non-renewable source) needed in 2021 and 2026, respectively.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.