Thunder Spirit Wind pursues project revision in North Dakota

The North Dakota Public Service Commission is reviewing a May 30 application from Thunder Spirit Wind LLC for amendment of a 2013 site certificate the commission had granted for the Thunder Spirit Wind Energy Project.

Comments and requests for hearing on the amendment must be received by July 23. An informal hearing on the amended application is scheduled to begin on June 25 at the Commission Hearing Room in Bismarck.

The modifications needed are attributable to three principal developments since the PSC issued the original Certificate of Site Compatibility in October 2013:

  • In October 2013 Thunder Spirit Wind signed a power purchase agreement for 107.5 MW of the overall project nameplate of 150 MW;
  • In October 2013 Thunder Spirit Wind selected the Nordex N100/2500 turbine for the project; and
  • In December 2013 the Federal Aviation Administration responded favorably to an appeal by Thunder Spirit to open up a portion of the project area previously judged to have airspace obstruction conflicts.

In June 2013, Thunder Spirit Wind, an affiliate of Wind Works Power Corp., submitted its application for this project. In October 2013, Thunder Spirit signed a power purchase agreement with Montana-Dakota Utilities (MDU) to supply 107.5 MW of power from the project for a 25-year period. This output represents just over two-thirds of the overall project nameplate capacity of 150 MW. The remaining approximately 42.5 MW of this nameplate capacity are currently being marketed and could potentially represent a second phase of the project.

In May, Thunder Spirit revised the project layout to accommodate a 107.5-MW Phase I, and to include the use of the area recently approved for turbine erection by the FAA.

In December 2013 Thunder Spirit also signed a turbine supply agreement with Nordex, to provide 43 turbines for the 107.5 MW initial phase of the project. This turbine is the 2.5 MW NordexN100/2500 IEC II. While this specific turbine was not described in the June 2013 application, its size, output, and thus range of potential environmental effects fall well within the range of turbines and associated potential impacts evaluated in the original application approved in October 2013.

Thunder Spirit is located two to five miles northeast of Hettinger, N.D., in Adams County. The project will have a nameplate (gross) capacity of approximately 107.5 MW. Assuming a net capacity factor of approximately 45.9%, the projected average annual output is estimated at about 485,900 megawatt hours (MWh) per year.

After all local and state permits required to construct the project were obtained, and a power purchase agreement was signed, Thunder Spirit began construction of part of its access road network in December 2013. Inclement weather forced work to stop for the winter. Thunder Spirit is targeting August 2014 for the resumption of construction provided all pre-construction permits and approvals have been obtained. The target date for commercial operation is October 2015, dependent upon permitting, equipment deliveries, and other development activities.

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.