Montana PSC sets Dec. 1 hearing on 25-MW wind project

The Montana Public Service Commission will conduct a Dec. 1 public hearing on a contested power contract between Northwestern Energy and Greenfield Wind LLC.

The commission pointed out in a Nov. 21 hearing notice that if a qualifying facility (QF) and a utility “are unable to mutually agree to a contract for the sale of electricity or a price for the electricity to be purchased by the utility, the [C]ommission shall require the utility to purchase the electricity under rates and conditions established” through a contested case process.

NorthWestern Energy and Greenfield Wind have told the commission that they have reached a settlement regarding an appropriate avoided cost rate and “adequate security to guarantee Greenfield’s performance.” The commission will conduct the Dec. 1 hearing as a contested case under the Montana Administrative Procedures Act.

NorthWestern Corp. d/b/a NorthWestern Energy 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. 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 power purchase agreement (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?

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.