Interstate seeks Minnesota approval for wind asset transfer

Interstate Power and Light applied Aug. 30 at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to approve IPL’s sale and transfer of land easements, wind rights, and rights to purchase wind turbines to its affiliate, Franklin County Wind LLC (FCW).

IPL had previously transferred the land rights associated with the Whispering Willows Central (WWC) site in Franklin County, Iowa, to FCW in June 2011. Also at that time, IPL transferred to FCW its right to purchase 60 Vestas wind turbine generators under a 2008 agreement between IPL, Vestas, IPL’s sister utility Wisconsin Power and Light (WPL), and their service company, Alliant Energy Corporate Services (AECS).

In 2008, Vestas Americas, IPL, WPL and AECS entered into a Master Supply Agreement (Vestas MSA) for the purchase of 303 Vestas 1.65-MW turbines. Of those turbines, IPL erected 121 in Franklin County, Iowa (known as Whispering Willow Wind Farm East) and WPL erected 122 turbines in Freeborn County, Minn. (known as Bent Tree), leaving 60 turbines (called the Group III Turbines) to be deployed.

Originally, the Group III Turbines were to be used by either IPL or WPL, but as environmental, political, economic, and regulatory climates changed, IPL and WPL re-evaluated the need to build additional wind projects, and concluded that construction and ownership of additional wind projects at the embedded prices for the Group III Turbines was not in the public interest at that time, the Aug. 30 application explained.

During the time that the ultimate disposition of the Group III Turbines was under review, the Vestas MSA required that progress payments be made to Vestas for the right of an Alliant Energy entity to purchase the turbines. IPL made these progress payments to Vestas. Prior to concluding that the Group III Turbines should be constructed by FCW, other opportunities were investigated, including: selling the Group III Turbines; partnering with a third party; and allowing Vestas to sell the turbines to another party.

“By spring of 2011, none of these prospects appeared likely to move forward, and it was decided to transfer the right to purchase the turbines to FCW, a new, non-regulated affiliate of IPL and WPL,” the Aug. 30 application said. “This decision to transfer the Wind Assets, including the rights to the Group III Turbines, was thoroughly reviewed by IPL’s Board of Directors. … It was then decided that FCW would construct its wind project at WWC, which required FCW to obtain the land easements and wind rights associated with WWC.”

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.