Dan’s Mountain Solar seeks break from FERC on 18-MW project in Maryland

Dan’s Mountain Solar LLC on Sept. 22 asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a one-time, limited waiver of PJM Open Access Transmission Tariff requirements and for reinstatement of its PJM queue position (PJM Queue #Z2-038) to allow Dan’s Mountain time to execute an Interconnection Service Agreement (ISA) with Potomac Edison.

Dan’s Mountain requested this waiver because, despite its good faith efforts to ensure timely receipt of local site permits, an unexpected delay in receipt of a final Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Maryland Public Service Commission until three months after the scheduled due date prevented execution of an ISA with Potomac Edison under the tariff prior to applicable deadlines. PJM and Potomac Edison have determined that reinstatement of Dan’s Mountain queue position Z2- 038 would have no impact at this time on third parties, said the project developer.

“Accordingly, PJM has recommended that Dan’s Mountain request that FERC reinstate its queue position Z2-038 by waiver of the PJM OATT,” it added. “These facts, when considered under the Commission’s four factor waiver test, weigh heavily in favor of granting Dan’s Mountain’s request. Dan’s Mountain also respectfully requests that the Commission shorten the notice period and grant expedited approval of its request.”

The Dan’s Mountain Solar Project is a planned 18.36-MW photovoltaic array in Allegany County, Maryland. The project is one of the larger renewable energy sites in Maryland, which will generate approximately 31.3 million kilowatt hours of clean electricity per year and be virtually hidden from view, the company said. Construction of the project is expected to take 12 months because it first requires preparation of 94 acres of a reclaimed mining site at the top of a mountain before the installation of 77,000 solar panels. The project has been in development for more than two years and Dan’s Mountain has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Dan’s Mountain initiated the PJM interconnection review process in 2014 for a connection to the PE Frostburg–Ridgeley 138 kV transmission line and received queue position #Z2-038. Dan’s Mountain subsequently received PJM’s Feasibility Study in August 2014, its System Impact Study in April 2015, and its Facilities Study in December 2015. After receipt of the Facilities Study, Dan’s Mountain had 60 days to execute the ISA under PJM OATT. However, Section 212.5 provides that an interconnection customer must obtain all necessary local, county, and state site permits prior to execution of an ISA.

This tariff language, combined with the receipt of the Facilities Study in December 2015, initially required Dan’s Mountain to obtain all local, county, and state site permits by February 2016. Prior to receipt of the facilities study, on Oct. 20, 2015, Dan’s Mountain filed an application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) — the primary state-level site permit in Maryland — from the Maryland Public Service Commission. Dan’s Mountain’s CPCN petition requested expedited review of its application for a target construction start in late-spring of 2016.

To further ensure receipt of a final CPCN prior to the ISA execution deadline, Dan’s Mountain accepted the proposed licensing conditions of the parties to the CPCN proceeding on March 14, effectively settling the case and requiring only a ministerial evidentiary hearing. Notwithstanding this timely settlement, nearly three months passed before the June 8 issuance of a proposed order.No parties appealed the proposed order to the full MDPSC, leading to a fmal order on July 11 — exactly three months past the due date for the proposed order included in the procedural schedule in the case. PJM was unable to provide Dan’s Mountain another extension to the ISA execution deadline and the interconnection request was automatically deemed terminated and withdrawn.

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.