The Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Energy Environmental Review and Analysis (EERA) staff on June 7 recommended that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approve a two-year delay asked for by Stoneray Power Partners LLC for the 105-MW Stoneray Wind Project in Pipestone and Murray counties, Minnesota.
Stoneray Power Partners, part of EDF Renewable Energy, has requested a permit amendment to extend the date to commence construction of this project for an additional two years.
On May 19, 2014, the Minnesota PUC issued a Large Wind Energy Conversion System (LWECS) Site Permit to Stoneray Power Partners to construct this project. On May 19, 2016, Stoneray submitted a petition to amend its permit by extending for two years both the time in which to obtain a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) or some other enforceable mechanism for sale of the electricity and the deadline to begin construction.
The Stoneray wind farm will consist of up to sixty-two 1.7-to-3.2-MW wind turbines, transformers, a project substation, 14 miles of turbine access roads, collector lines, up to three permanent meteorological towers, and other project facilities. The project area is in Pipestone and Murray counties in southwestern Minnesota near the town of Woodstock. The project will connect to the electrical transmission grid at Northern States Power‘s/Xcel Energy’s Chanarambie substation.
The company’s arguments to grant an extension to begin construction rest on the facts that:
- The federal production tax credit (PTC) has been resolved to provide developers and purchasing utilities enough certainty to pursue PPAs;
- Stoneray has progressed sufficiently in the Midcontinent ISO queue process to have an expected date for a generator interconnection agreement (GIA) in the second quarter of 2017; and
- The commission has set a precedent of approving similar extension requests.
Said the June 7 finding: “The Department’s Energy Environmental Review and Analysis (EERA) unit finds the causes for delay convincing and the justifications for an extension reasonable.”
The Site Permit requires that certain actions be taken within two years of May 20, 2014. First, section 10.2 requires that a power purchase agreement or other enforceable mechanism for the sale of electricity be obtained. Second, section 10.3 requires that pre-construction surveys be completed and construction be commenced.