MISO seeks termination of interconnect for 200-MW North Dakota wind project

Saying the developer has failed to make needed payments, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator on March 24 filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission a Notice of Termination of the Generator Interconnection Agreement for the 200-MW project in North Dakota of Courtenay Wind Farm LLC.

The other party to the agreement has been interconnecting transmission owner Otter Tail Power. The project has been designated in the MISO queue as Project No. J262/J263.

“Interconnection Customer has breached its obligations under the Interconnection Agreement by failing to pay required Milestone payments,” said MISO in the FERC notice. Details of the alleged breach were filed with the commission under seal. MISO added: “Interconnection Customer’s continued presence in the MISO interconnection queue while in Default of its obligations under the Interconnection Agreement causes harm to Otter Tail, MISO, and to other projects in the queue. In addition, termination of the Interconnection Agreement will benefit other projects by increasing certainty regarding needed upgrades which will help to expedite the queue process.”

MISO wrote: “A Notice of Breach, Notice of Default, and this Notice of Termination have been provided to Interconnection Customer under the terms of the Interconnection Agreement. While the Interconnection Customer has responded to the Notice of Breach, Courtenay has not taken appropriate steps to fulfill its obligations and cure the Breach or Default or to place any disputed amount in escrow as required by the Interconnection Agreement. Therefore, Interconnection Customer is in Default, and MISO, on behalf of itself and Transmission Owner, is filing the instant Notice of Termination seeking to have the Interconnection Agreement terminated pursuant to the terms of Article 2.3 of the Interconnection Agreement.”

The project is to interconnect to Otter Tail’s Jamestown 345/115/41.6 kV substation and is located in northeastern Stutsman County, North Dakota. The maximum net megawatt electrical output is to be 200 MW as measured at the low side of the generator step up transformer. It would consist of 100 Vestas V100-2.0 MW Mk7 turbines.

This project already in a FERC dispute proceeding

FERC on Jan. 12 sent into its settlement judge process a complaint by Geronimo Wind Energy LLC over transmission service for this project. On Oct. 23, 2014, Geronimo Wind Energy had filed a petition for declaratory order regarding transmission service over a transmission line running from Center to Maple River, North Dakota (Center-Maple River Line). In the Jan. 12 order, FERC set the petition for hearing and settlement judge procedures.

Geronimo stated that it is developing and attempting to obtain financing for the 200-MW Courtenay Wind Farm. Geronimo said that it negotiated a 200-MW Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Xcel Energy for the output of the Courtenay Project.

Geronimo stated that in November 2012, it submitted to MISO two requests for 100 MW of interconnection service (200 MW total). Geronimo said it thereafter executed a GIA for the Courtenay Project with MISO. Geronimo’s petition requested that the commission confirm that:

  • a 1966 agreement between Otter Tail and Minnkota Power Cooperative gave Otter Tail the right to provide transmission service over the Center-Maple River Line;
  • Otter Tail’s transmission rights over the Center-Maple River Line have been assigned to MISO; and
  • the rate provided by the MISO Open Access Transmission, Energy and Operating Reserve Markets Tariff (MISO Tariff) is the only rate that may be charged for transmission service provided by MISO over the Center-Maple River Line.

Geronimo stated that Minnkota informed Geronimo that Minnkota’s consent is required before MISO can transmit over the jointly-owned Center-Maple River Line and that Minnkota must be compensated under its non-jurisdictional Open Access Transmission Tariff (OATT). Geronimo contends that the 1966 agreement provided both Otter Tail and Minnkota with the right to transmit energy over the entire system without any requirement that Minnkota grant its consent or that Minnkota be compensated.

The latest filing in that dispute case came on March 11 and was an order from FERC’s Chief Administrative Law Judge. “On February 19, 2015, Judge Karen V. Johnson reported that a settlement conference occurred on February 17, 2015, and that parties are making progress toward settlement,” said the order. “In view of the parties’ progress, Judge Johnson recommends that settlement judge procedures be continued. The Chief Judge finds that it is in the public interest to continue the settlement judge procedures in order to allow the parties to try to reach a negotiated settlement. Accordingly, settlement judge procedures with Settlement Judge Johnson are hereby continued.”

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.