Goodwell files Texas complaint against Noble over wind farm development issues

Goodwell Wind Project LLC, because it said it has been denied needed interconnect facilities, on July 6 filed at the Public Utility Commission of Texas a complaint against Noble Great Plains Windpark LLC.

Goodwell is developing a wind farm located in Oklahoma which will interconnect and deliver power to a facility known as the Hitchland Interchange substation, which is located in Texas and is owned and operated by Southwestern Public Service Co. (SPS). Noble is currently operating a wind farm in Hansford County, Texas. Noble’s wind farm is interconnected to Hitchland.

Goodwell said that in February 2014, Noble denied Goodwell’s request for permission to connect to Hitchland because the “additional capacity represented by the interconnection of the Goodwell Wind Project, LLC (‘Goodwell’) would have a material negative impact on the market price for energy received by [Noble’s wind farm]….”  Noble has since followed up that denial with a lawsuit.

Goodwell said Noble’s actions violate the commission’s prohibition against “unfair, misleading, deceptive or anti-competitive practices,” and it should therefore be sanctioned by the PUC for those violations. “[S]mply put, Noble claims its easement, which surrounds Hitchland, allows it to exclude other wind providers from crossing that easement in order to access and interconnect their lines to that substation,” said the complaint.

Hitchland connects several major power lines into the existing transmission network at a point in Hansford County, Texas, just inside the Oklahoma-Texas state line. The Southwest Power Pool (SPP) requires certain electric power generators to interconnect to the transmission system at a position inside Hitchland. Any electric power generator that is located west of Hitchland and is required by SPP to interconnect to the transmission system at Hitchland (including the Goodwell Project), out of necessity has to have its transmission lines cross over the roadway which runs North-South immediately West of Hitchland (the “Roadway”).

Goodwell wrote: “Noble objects to Goodwell’s transmission lines crossing the Roadway, claiming it is in Noble’s easement area. Access to Hitchland is of paramount importance for Goodwell to complete the Goodwell Project. Goodwell has a significant interest in the Roadway and is directly affected by the efforts of Noble to include the Roadway as part of its exclusive easement area.”

Noble built a wind farm on the land the subject of the Easement Agreement and it was energized on or about 2009. Noble’s wind farm interconnects with Hitchland. 

Goodwell has developed, is constructing and plans to bring on line by December 2015, a wind farm whose turbines are located in Texas County, Oklahoma. The power generated from this wind farm will be transmitted by overhead transmission lines that will connect to Hitchland.

On March 12 of this year, Noble filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Noble asked for a declaration that the Easement Agreement granted it an exclusive easement over a certain unpaved, common-use roadway. The affidavit filed in support of its complaint says that Noble claims that it has an “exclusive easement” over the roadway, and further suggests that Goodwell’s transmission line proposed to cross the roadway might not “be of a sufficient height to allow the transport of cranes, truck or other large vehicles and the delivery of wind turbine components for the continued operation of [Noble’s] wind generation facilities in the Easement Area….”

Goodwell said it has never sought to utilize the roadway or in any way interfere with Noble’s use of the roadway. Its transmission lines will merely cross over the roadway at a height that is accepted in the industry and that is higher than existing lines that already cross the roadway. It is Goodwell’s understanding that one or more third-party generators, such as DeWind Frisco LLC, have previously constructed facilities on the real property that is subject to Noble’s easement and have interconnected into the Hitchland Interchange.

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.