Minnesota PUC terminates New Era Wind Farm approvals

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Oct. 23 issued its final decision terminating prior approvals for a 78-MW wind farm that project developer New Era Wind Farm LLC no longer wants to pursue.

This case involves closely related dockets – an application for a certificate of need to build a 78-MW wind farm (now called the New Era Wind Farm due to a change in ownership) in Goodhue County; an application for a site permit for the wind farm; and a request for approval of two contracts to sell the electricity from the wind farm to Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL). In three earlier orders the commission granted the certificate of need, issued a site permit and approved the contracts.

Those approvals were based on the project’s anticipated in-service date of Dec. 31, 2011. The wind farm was not built on schedule, however, and on Dec. 31, 2012—the last day of the one-year grace period provided under the certificate of need rules—the project filed a request to extend its in-service date for one year. This request was opposed by scores of local residents and questioned by the host county.

On July 24, Xcel Energy told the commission that both parties had agreed to terminate the power agreements.

On Sept. 17, the project developer made a filing stating that it no longer intended to develop a wind farm in Goodhue County, that it withdrew the pending avian and bat protection plan required under its site permit, that it requested termination of its site permit, that it withdrew its application to extend its certificate of need, and that it requested that the commission close all four dockets related to the project. No one opposed the project’s requests. On Oct. 10, the case came before the commission and the Oct. 23 decision grants the company’s requests.

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.