Minnesota PUC to look at extension for 201-MW wind project

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission at its Aug. 1 meeting will be looking at issues related to the 201-MW Noble Flat Hill Windpark I project, to be located in Clay County, approximately 12 miles northeast of Moorhead, Minn.

The project was proposed by Noble Flat Hill Windpark I LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Noble Environmental Power (NEP), commission staff noted in a July 25 memo.

In February 2010, the commission issued three orders which granted Noble: a certificate of need, a route permit, and a site permit. In March 2010, Radio Fargo-Moorhead Inc. (RFM), a landowner within the project site boundary, filed Petitions for Writ of Certiorari with the Minnesota Court of Appeals, appealing the commission’s grant of the Site Permit and Route Permit for the project. RFM based its appeal on its claims that it was not properly notified of the project and that RFM’s six tower AM directional antenna system was not considered in the development of the records or in the final route and site permit decisions.

In April 2010, the court discharged RFM’s writs of certiorari and dismissed its appeals and remanded the matter back to the commission for further proceedings on RFM’s petitions to vacate or suspend the route and site permit orders.

In May 2010, RFM submitted a petition for the commission to vacate, stay, and/ or reconsider the February 2010 orders granting Noble a route permit and a site permit. The petition included a request which was not included in the original court appeal, i.e., a request to vacate or stay the commission’s order granting a certificate of need.

Through their own meetings and negotiations, Noble and RFM reached a settlement resolving all issues raised in the RFM petition. RFM withdrew all challenges and agreed that the project permits should be affirmed by the commission.

In September 2011, the Department of Commerce Energy Facilities Permitting (DOC EFP) staff submitted a filing which documented the name change with the Minnesota Secretary of State of Noble Flat Hill Windpark I to Flat Hill Windpark I. DOC EFP concluded that since the permits are still held by the same LLC, transfer of the permits is not necessary.

On April 4, Flat Hill filed two petitions, one in the certificate of need docket and another jointly in the route and site permit dockets. The Flat Hill petition noted that the project is not yet in service and requested that the commission accept a change in the in-service date for the project from December 2010 to December 2015 without recertification.

On April 19, the Department of Commerce Division of Energy Resources (the Department) filed comments recommending that the commission find the changes acceptable without further hearings.

On May 24, the DOC EFP staff filed comments on the permit amendments and included proposed amended permit language. The DOC EFP ultimately recommended the commission approve the amendments with modifications.

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.