Judge says federal agency should have subjected wind farm to environmental review

A U.S. District Court judge, in a preliminary decision in a case filed on Jan. 16, ruled on May 7 that the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) acted in an “arbitrary” and “capricious” way in deciding not to subject a wind project that it plans to buy power from to an environmental review process.

Judge Michael Mihm, sitting in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois, did however refuse to grant a plaintiff request for temporary restraining order in this matter. A status conference in this case is scheduled for May 29.

In September 2014, the General Services Administration entered into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Defendant MG2 Tribal Energy LLC for electrical energy to be generated from the Walnut Ridge Wind Farm Project then under development by Defendants Geronimo Wind Energy LLC d/b/a Geronimo Energy and Walnut Ridge Wind LLC. The GSA is strictly purchasing energy and acquired no control over the development, construction, or operation of the project.

Prior to executing the PPA with MG2, the GSA determined that this purchase of electrical powerwould not constitute a “major federal action” under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

In January 2015, the plaintiffs, mainly nearby residents, sued the GSA, Geronimo, MG2, and Walnut Ridge Wind alleging that the GSA violated NEPA by failing to complete an environmental impacement statement (EIS) relative to the PPA. Plaintiffs also moved for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction.

On April 17, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, via its subsidiary BHE Wind LLC, acquired Walnut Ridge Wind from Geronimo, and Walnut Ridge Wind acquired MG2’s interest under the PPA as part of that acquisition.

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.