Oliver Wind III LLC, a wholly owned, indirect subsidiary of NextEra Energy’s (NYSE:NEE) NextEra Energy Resources, is seeking approval from the North Dakota Public Service Commission (PSC) for a 4.5-mile, 230-kV line to connect with a proposed wind energy project.
According to the consolidated application “for a waiver or reduction of procedures and time schedules and certificate of corridor compatibility and transmission facility route permit,” filed on March 4 with the PSC and prepared for Oliver Wind III by Tetra Tech, Oliver Wind III is proposing to build the Oliver III Transmission Line.
Oliver Wind III requested that the PSC waive certain procedures and reduce certain required time schedules, including that the PSC allow the combination of the certificate of corridor compatibility application and route permit application processes into one application; approve a corridor 250 feet in width; find that the proposed facilities are of such design, length, location and purpose that they will produce minimal adverse effects; as well as designate and approve the requested facilities as identified in the application and issue the appropriate corridor certificate and route permit.
The proposed project consists of an approximately 4.5-mile, single-circuit, alternating current 230-kV overhead transmission line to be built on private property in Oliver and Morton counties in North Dakota. The project also includes a new switchyard – the Minnkota switchyard – that would be built on about five acres of land at the northern terminus of the proposed project in the northeast quarter of Section 23, Township 141 North, Range 83 West, the application added.
A total of eight new structures would be built west of the Minnkota switchyard running to the tap on the existing Minnkota Power Cooperative Inc. Center to Mandan 230-kV overhead transmission line, and a total of three new structures would be built to the east to connect the proposed project transmission line to the Minnkota switchyard.
The total cost of building the line and associated facilities is estimated at $11.4m, Oliver Wind III added. According to the preliminary project schedule, final transmission line design and material procurement is scheduled for May, with construction starting in July. “Testing operations” is targeted for November, and “in-service operations” is slated for December.
The proposed project would allow the Oliver III Wind Energy Center to contribute about 100 MW to the power grid through the Minnkota switchyard, which would connect the Oliver III Wind Energy Center to the Center to Mandan line. The application further noted that the Oliver III Wind Energy Center is a proposed wind farm consisting of up to 48 wind turbine generators to be located in Oliver and Morton counties.
Further describing the transmission project, Oliver Wind III said that it would connect the proposed Oliver III Wind Energy Center’s collection substation that would be built east of 33rd Avenue and adjacent to 32nd Street in Section 10, Township 140 North, Range 83 West, with the Center to Mandan line. A tap would be built at the proposed Minnkota switchyard at the point of interconnection – northeast quarter of Section 23, Township 141 North, Range 83 West.
The average height of the single pole structures would range from 110 feet to 130 feet, depending on final engineering design, while the typical easement that would be used during construction and maintained during the life of the proposed project, or right of way, is 150 feet wide.
Of the project corridor, Oliver Wind III said that it is rural and primarily composed of a mixture of cropland and grassland. The corridor is located on privately owned land along existing roadways, and field lines to the extent feasible.
Oliver Wind III also said that a desktop analysis of aerial photography, topographical maps, National Wetlands Inventory and National Hydrography Dataset identified no potential jurisdictional wetlands and five intermittent streams crossings within the project corridor. Oliver Wind III said that it would conduct wetland delineations of potential U.S. Army Corps of Engineers jurisdiction for the proposed project in the spring.
In addition, overall, based on the location of the proposed project within a whooping crane migration corridor, whooping cranes may migrate through the project area and may be at risk of colliding with wind turbines and any utility lines associated with the proposed project. To reduce risk of collision for whooping cranes and other birds, sections of the transmission line that are within one mile of any potentially suitable wetland habitat for whooping cranes would be outfitted with certain bird flight diverters, Oliver Wind III added.
The PSC in April 2011, in Case Number PU-09-724, issued a certificate of site compatibility for a transmission facility corridor and route permit to Oliver Wind III for about 9.5 miles of 230-kV electric transmission line and associated facilities to be located in Morton and Oliver counties. The line and associated facilities as authorized in that case have not been built, the application added. Due to significant changes in the transmission line corridor, route and associated facilities as proposed in the application, Oliver Wind III requested that the proposed transmission line corridor, route and associated facilities as set forth in the application be substituted for and supersede those as approved in Case Number PU-09-724.
According to the application for a certificate of site compatibility, also prepared for Oliver Wind III by Tetra Tech and filed on March 4, additional facilities for the Oliver III Wind Energy Center include access roads, electrical collection systems and cabling, a collection substation, an operation and maintenance building, meteorological towers and a construction laydown area.
In March 2012, in Case Number PU-11-561, the PSC issued a certificate of site compatibility for an energy conversion facility to Oliver Wind III for the construction, operation, and maintenance of a wind energy facility known as the Oliver Wind III Energy Center to be located in Morton County. The wind energy center and associated facilities as authorized in that case have not been built, according to the application. Due to significant changes in the wind energy center and associated facilities as proposed in the new application, Oliver Wind III requested that the proposed wind energy center and associated facilities as set forth in the application be substituted for and supersede those approved in Case Number PU-11-561.