Iowa board rejects Heartland’s 1.5-MW solar project due to schedule uncertainties

The Iowa Utilities Board on June 27 rejected an August 2015 application from Heartland Power Cooperative related to a 1.5-MW solar project because Heartland failed provide certain needed information.

Heartland was seeking certification of a solar energy conversion facility as an eligible facility pursuant to Iowa Code. In the application, Heartland stated the solar energy conversion facility will be owned by an electric cooperative association organized under Iowa Code chapter 499 and that Heartland is the sole owner of the facility. Heartland stated that it meets the requirements of Iowa Code and requested eligibility for the 1.5-MW facility that will be located in Lake Mills, Iowa. Heartland said it will sell all of the energy produced by the facility to Dairyland Power Cooperative; however, the power purchase agreement is not yet completed.

In its initial application, Heartland stated that the facility would be placed in service on or before Jan. 1, 2017. On April 26, 2016, board staff requested that Heartland provide a preliminary timeline for completion of the facility, including the date the facility is expected to be placed in service and other significant milestones. On May 24, 2016, Heartland responded that it had not progressed on its plans to construct the facility. Therefore, the Jan. 1, 2017, completion date initially provided would likely be unattainable, and the facility would be placed in service sometime after Jan. 1, 2017.

Said the June 27 board decision: “The Board has reviewed the information provided by Heartland and finds that the application is complete. Heartland has applied for renewable energy tax credit eligibility for a solar energy conversion facility to be located in Iowa. The facility will be owned by Heartland Power, which is an electric cooperative association organized pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 499 that sells electricity to end users in Iowa.

“However, Heartland has failed to provide the Board with an approximate date by which the facility is intended to be placed in service, a preliminary timeline for project completion, and a list of significant milestones toward project completion. Further, Heartland has expressed uncertainty as to when and if the facility will be placed in service. Therefore, Heartland has failed to show that the facility will meet the requirement of Iowa Code § 476C.1(6)(d) that the facility will be placed in service before January 1, 2018. Approving a project with such uncertainty could prevent viable projects from receiving renewable energy tax credits due to the limited nameplate generating capacity available. For that reason, the Board will deny Heartland’s application. Heartland may file a new application for preliminary eligibility, but any such application should include the information requested by Board staff’s April 26, 2016, letter.”

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.