Osage Nation protests transfer of 152-MW Oklahoma wind project

The Osage Nation on Sept. 19 protested at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission a recent application to transfer ownership of a 152-MW wind project located on property where the nation has interests.

On Aug. 29, Osage Wind LLC filed an application for authorization to transfer 100% of the ownership interests in that company and its 152-MW facility under development in Osage County, Okla., from Wind Capital Group LLC to TradeWind Energy.

The Osage Nation on Sept. 19 filed an intervention notice and an initial protest, reserving the right to file further protest arguments at a later point in this case. The Osage Nation is a federally recognized tribe, based mainly in Osage County, Okla.

The Osage Wind Facility is to be located on property belonging to members of the Osage Nation, and the mineral rights under the Osage Wind Facility are held in trust by the U.S. Government for the benefit of the Osage Nation. The nation said it is involved in a dispute with Wind Capital Ventures regarding the Osage Wind Facility’s impacts on the Osage Nation’s mineral rights and cultural resources. The Osage Wind Facility is located on land owned by private individuals in fee simple but the mineral rights have been severed and belong to the Osage Nation as a whole. The nation said it has raised three primary concerns regarding the Osage Wind Facility.

  • First, the presence of the facility will interfere with the Osage Nation’s ability to exploit its sub-surface mineral rights, particularly the extraction of natural gas and oil.
  • Second, the facility has sought permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to kill up to three bald eagles per year through an Eagle Take Permit, for the proposed 40-year lifespan of the facility. The bald eagle is sacred and symbolic to the Osage people.
  • Third, the nation is concerned that the site proposed for the wind facility will impact significant cultural resources for the tribe.

The Osage Nation is raising its concerns regarding the Eagle Take Permit request and cultural resources to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), which is currently performing an Environmental Site Assessment (ESA). The USFWS is also meeting with both the Osage Wind Facility’s current owner, Wind Capital Group, and the Osage Nation to try to work out these concerns.

“An expedited transfer of the Osage Wind Facility’s ownership, particularly by expedited Commission order within the next two weeks as requested by Applicant, could negatively impact such discussions, particularly in the absence of a commitment by the new owner, TradeWind Energy, Inc., to work with the Osage Nation to resolve these very significant concerns,” said the Sept. 19 protest.

Although applicants have styled the transaction as an acquisition of 100% of the ownership interests in Osage Wind LLC by TradeWind Energy, the physical ownership of the generation site will be impacted, as the ultimate ownership of the site will change, and the parties to the on-going negotiations will change, as presumably TradeWind Energy will engage in further discussions with the Osage Nation and USFWS, the tribe added.

Osage project has a power deal with Associated Electric Cooperative

The project is in the Associated Electric Cooperative (AECI) balancing authority area. Osage Wind has already obtained commission authorization to make wholesale sales of electric energy, capacity and ancillary services at market-based rates and has filed a notice of self-certification of exempt wholesale generator status. The full output of the Osage Facility is committed for sale to AECI under a long-term contract.

Osage Wind is under its current ownership affiliated with Lost Creek Wind LLC and Post Rock Wind Power Project LLC, the Aug. 19 application noted.

  • Lost Creek owns and operates an approximately 150 MW wind facility located in Dekalb County, Mo., within the AECI balancing authority area. This facility commenced commercial operations in May 2010. Lost Creek sells 100% of its output to AECI under a long-term power sale agreement.
  • Post Rock owns and operates an approximately 201 MW wind facility in Ellsworth, Lincoln and Rice counties, Kansas, within the Midwest Energy transmission area, which is part of the Westar Energy balancing authority area. The full output of the Post Rock Facility is committed to Westar under a long-term contract.

Osage Wind is a subsidiary of Wind Capital. Wind Capital is a direct, wholly-owned subsidiary of Wind Capital Ventures LLC (WCV). NTR US Wind (NTR US) is an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of NTR plc (NTR), and holds about 97% of the voting equity interests in WCV. NTR, a public limited company headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, is a leading investor in renewable energy and sustainable waste management businesses in the U.S. and Ireland.

Osage Wind buyer TradeWind has two other wind projects in the works

On the buying side of this proposed transaction, TradeWind Energy has a principal place of business in Lenexa, Kansas. TradeWind specializes in the development of wind and solar energy projects across the U.S. The AECI balancing authority area includes portions of Oklahoma and Missouri, where TradeWind is developing the Mustang Run Wind Project and the Rock Creek Wind Project.

  • The Mustang Run Wind Project is a proposed 150-MW facility that will be located about 13 miles west of Pawhuska, Okla., within Osage County.
  • The Rock Creek Wind Project is a proposed 300 MW-400 MW facility that will be located about 60 miles north of St. Joseph, Mo.

It is anticipated that the entire output of both the Mustang Run and Rock Creek wind projects will be sold to non-affiliated third parties under long-term agreements. Neither project currently has an interconnection agreement.

TradeWind is owned by Enel Kansas LLC, which owns 19.9% of the issued and outstanding stock in TradeWind and by the following individuals: Robert Freeman, Geoffrey Coventry and Matthew Gilhousen, each of whom owns 26.7% of the issued and outstanding stock of TradeWind.

Enel Kansas LLC is owned by Enel Green Power North America (Enel NA). Enel NA’s principal business is owning, operating, and developing hydroelectric and renewable energy generation facilities throughout the United States and Canada. It is a subsidiary of Enel Green Power International BV, a company organized under the laws of the Netherlands.

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.