Deepwater Wind defends power sale deal at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Looking to protect a power purchase agreement, Deepwater Wind Holdings LLC filed May 11 at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to intervene in the commission’s review of an April 21 complaint of Benjamin Riggs relating to a Public Utilities Commission of Rhode Island decision.

Deepwater Wind urged FERC to deny the complaint for failure to state any basis for finding any violation of federal statutory standards or regulatory requirements by the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission (RIPUC).

Deepwater Wind is a developer of utility-scale offshore wind projects. Through its indirect wholly-owned subsidiary, Deepwater Wind Block Island LLC (DWBI), Deepwater Wind is developing a 30-MW wind farm located off the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island (the Block Island Wind Farm), which will sell its output to Narragansett Electric Co. d/b/a National Grid under the amended power purchase agreement (PPA) that is the subject of the complaint.

“The Block Island Wind Farm is the first U.S. offshore wind project to obtain construction financing and commence construction,” the company noted. “As such, it will significantly advance U.S. development of offshore wind as a reliable renewable energy resource.”

The PPA was approved in August 2010 by the RIPUC based on a finding that the project met the standards set forth in Rhode Island’s Long-Term Contracting Standard for Renewable Energy. The RIPUC’s approval of the PPA was based on a determination that the PPA is “commercially reasonable” as that standard is defined under Rhode Island law, which was effectively a determination that National Grid was prudent in entering into the purchase arrangement. The RIPUC did not approve the PPA pursuant to its implementation authority under section 210 of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978, as amended (PURPA), nor did the RIPUC set the pricing terms in the PPA.

The RIPUC proceeding regarding the PPA was open to participation by interested parties, the wind developer told FERC. However, it added, complainant did not take advantage of the opportunity to participate in the RIPUC proceeding as a party.

In July 2011, the Rhode Island Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, affirmed the RIPUC’s decision. In August 2012, two years after the RIPUC issued its order approving the PPA, complainant filed a first complaint with FERC over the PPA seeking an enforcement action against the RIPUC under section 210(h)(2) of PURPA. Complainant further alleged violations of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution and state procedural law by the RIPUC and the State of Rhode Island General Assembly. In October 2012, FERC disposed of this prior complaint by issuing a notice of intent not to act.

In this new proceeding, complainant again asserts that the RIPUC’s order approving the PPA violates PURPA and further alleges that the RIPUC violated the Federal Power Act (FPA) and the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Deepwater Wind said there is absolutely no support for these claims and that the commission should promptly deny the complaint in its entirety.

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.