The addition of two turbines and the relocation of an operation and maintenance (O&M) building are not material modifications of an existing siting certificate for a wind project, the West Virginia Public Service Commission ruled on Dec. 30.
New Creek Wind LLC holds a siting certificate for the construction and operation of a wholesale electric generating facility consisting of up to 66 wind turbines and related interconnection facilities to be located over a seven-mile stretch of the New Creek Mountain ridgeline in Grant County, West Virginia. On Nov. 14, 2014, New Creek filed an application for a waiver of siting certificate modification requirements, or in the alternative, for modification of siting certificate and related requests for relief.
New Creek described planned modifications to the project and asserted that none is material under a siting rule. At the time of filing of the application, New Creek represented that when considering the totality of the circumstances, the “three minor design revisions” described in the application did not materially affect the project’s viewshed impacts, sound levels, emissions, or other environmental impacts.
The three revisions consisted of: two additional turbines at the project’s southern end (Turbines T-1 and T-2); the use of overhead electric collection lines rather than an underground electric collection system; and moving the O&M building from the substation site to a location nearer to the access road entrance.
“The Siting Certificate Application requested authority for up to sixty-six wind turbines with a maximum output of up to 160 MW,” the Dec. 30 order noted. “In the Siting Certificate Application, no specific turbine model had been selected, but the Project was assessed based on data reflecting the installation of (i) fifty-three Clipper 2.5 MW Liberty wind turbines, each with a hub height of 80 meters and rotor diameter of 99 meters, for a total height of 129.5 meters with a blade in a vertical position; (ii) sixty-six General Electric (GE) 1.5 MW turbines, also with a hub height of 80 meters, but with a 77 meter rotor diameter,for a total height of 118.5 meters; or (iii) fifty-three 2.5 MW GE turbines, with a hub height of 85 meters and a rotor blade diameter of 100 meters, for a total height of 135 meters.
“In the Application, New Creek represented that it had elected to use forty-seven Gamesa Model G97 2.0 MW turbines, each with a hub height of 78 meters and a rotor diameter of 97 meters, for a total height of approximately 125 meters. Consequently, the Project will have fewer turbines and a smaller total generating capacity (94 MW, compared with the 160 MW authorized in the Certificate). Moreover, the total turbine and blade height will be shorter (125 meters, as compared with the authorized 135 meters). New Creek contended that these changes are within the scope of the Certificate’s authority, and none required Commission review. New Creek will continue construction of this Project scope in February 2015 and expects to begin operations before the end of 2015.New Creek proposed to add two turbines to the Project (Turbines T-1 and T-2), for a total of forty-nine turbines (98 MW).”
Said the commission ruling: “The Revisions will not change the generation or transmission capacity of the Project. The New Turbines will result in a Project turbine count of forty-nine turbines and a Project generating capacity of 98 MW, each of which is within the terms of the Siting Certificate.”
The commission had certified the project in a siting certificate issued to AES New Creek LLC in 2009. On Oct. 9, 2014, AES New Creek, which was a unit of AES Corp. (NYSE: AES), informed the commission of its sale to EverPower Wind Holdings. Subsequently, EverPower changed the project company’s name to New Creek Wind LLC.