Black Hills Power on Oct. 22 asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, which is handling the Chapter 11 case of coal producer Alpha Natural Resources, for relief related to its plan to build part of a new power line over Alpha property in Wyoming.
Black Hills requested an expedited hearing on its motion for Nov. 5. Alpha, which is based in Virginia and has two coal mines (Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte) in Wyoming, in August filed for Chapter 11 protection.
Black Hills is seeking relief from a stay of outside legal proceedings, which a bankruptcy court routinely grants in the opening stages of a Chapter 11 case, so it can pursue condemnation proceedings against Alpha Wyoming Land Co. LLC to obtain an easement on real property. Black Hills said it has attempted to obtain the consent of Alpha Wyoming to the easement but has been unable to do so. It intends to begin construction on the power line project in November 2015.
Without first obtaining an easement on Alpha Wyoming’s real property, not only will Black Hills be unable to complete the power line project, but, under Wyoming law, BHP will be unable to begin work on the ten-mile segment crossing Alpha Wyoming’s real property. The inability to commence work will cause it severe prejudice and cost. Any such cost and delay will further harm the public interest as the power line project is intended to benefit the residents of Black Hills and Rapid City areas with more reliable power service. “Accordingly, allowing the Motion for Relief from Stay to go forward on an expedited basis is necessary to keep the Power Line project on schedule,” the company said.
Black Hills seeks to construct and operate approximately 145 miles of new 230-kV transmission line from the Teckla Substation (located in Campbell County, Wyoming) to the Osage Substation (located in Newcastle, Wyoming), then terminating at the Lange Substation (located in Pennington County, South Dakota). The power line requires a right-of-way-width of approximately 125 feet on private lands and 100 feet on federal lands.