NorthWestern contests wind project issues at Montana PSC

NorthWestern Corp. d/b/a NorthWestern Energy is working through a contested proceeding at the Montana Public Service Commission to set terms and conditions to be included in a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Greenfield Wind LLC.

NorthWestern said in its April 23 application that it and Greenfield were unable to mutually agree to a contract for the sale of electricity or a price for the electricity to be purchased by NorthWestern. The proceeding is still ongoing, with NorthWestern on July 3 filing additional data on the situation with the commission.

On March 16, Martin Wilde of WINData LLC sent an email to NorthWestern in which he asserted that Greenfield Wind had created a legally enforceable obligation (LEO) for a 25-MW project and requested the immediate execution of a PPA as a qualifying facility. The April 23 petition presented three issues:

  • What rate may NorthWestern pay Greenfield?
  • What security is adequate security to guarantee Greenfield’s performance? and
  • Has Greenfield incurred an LEO?

NorthWestem requests that the commission find that it may pay Greenfield $47.78/MWh if environmental attributes are included and $34.77/MWh if environmental attributes are not included, less the incremental cost of network transmission service that NorthWestern would not otherwise incur, less the cost of transmission congestion, and less the incremental regulation cost that NorthWestern would not otherwise incur.

Greenfield said in its May 12 petition to intervene in this case that its efforts to get a PPA have been “stymied” by NorthWestern’s repeated refusal to enter into a PPA with rates set at the utility’s full avoided costs and reasonable and legal terms that would allow the project to be financed and constructed. In fact, WINData, owner of Greenfield Wind, Coyote Wind and several other QFs, filed a joint petition for enforcement with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which resulted in a finding by FERC that NorthWestern’s rates, tariffs and contracting policies are currently in direct violation of PURPA and FERC’s regulations, the company said.

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.