The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission issued a July 21 order pushing back the in-service date to December 2018 for the 105-MW Stoneray Power Partners LLC wind project.
In May 2014, the commission granted a certificate of need and issued a site permit to Stoneray Power Partners for construction of a 105-MW large wind farm in Pipestone and Murray counties. On May 19 of this year, Stoneray asked the commission to modify the certificate of need in-service date and amend the site permit to extend the timeline for completing required steps and beginning construction. Stoneray asked that the commission grant the extensions without requiring additional hearings or recertification.
Stoneray’s petition requested that the certificate of need be modified to change the in-service date of the project from 2015 to 2018. Stoneray also requested that the site permit be amended to extend the time period for obtaining a power purchase agreement, conducting pre-construction surveys, and beginning construction. These steps, set forth in conditions 10.2 and 10.3 of the site permit, were to be completed within two years of permit issuance – in other words, by May 20, 2016.
Stoneray requested that the commission extend the time frame for completing these steps to two years from the issuance date of an amended site permit. In addition, Stoneray requested that condition 12.0 of the site permit be amended to extend the expiration date of the permit to 30 years from the date of the amended permit, instead of 30 years from the date of the original permit.
Stoneray stated that the need for additional time is due, in part, to slowed growth in the wind industry in 2014. According to the company, uncertainty over whether the federal production tax credit would be extended contributed to Stoneray’s difficulty in finding a power purchaser. Further, Stoneray’s interconnection application with the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) is pending, and the company expects that MISO will not finalize an interconnection agreement with the company until the second quarter of 2017.
Despite these issues, Stoneray stated that it continues developing the project and expects to find a power purchaser. According to the company, extension of the federal tax credit in 2014 and expected increases in wind procurement in the next few years are strengthening the wind market.
Said the July 21 order: “The Commission concurs with the parties that it is reasonable to modify the certificate of need to extend the in-service date of the project from 2015 to 2018 without requiring further hearings or recertification because it does not appear that a later in-service date would have changed the Commission’s previous decision to grant the certificate of need. The Commission also concurs that it is reasonable to amend conditions 10.2 and 10.3 of the site permit to extend the time period for obtaining a power purchase agreement, conducting pre-construction surveys, and beginning construction to two years from the date of the amended site permit. The Commission will also amend condition 12.0 of the site permit to extend the expiration date of the site permit to 30 years from the date of the amended site permit.”