Minnesota PUC considers rejection of site permit for Trishe Wind project

Due for discussion at the Jan. 12 meeting of the members of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is the question of whether to revoke the site permit for the up-to-41-MW Trishe Wind Minnesota LLC project in Kandiyohi and Meeker counties, Minnesota.

In February 2011, the commission issued a site permit to Lake Country Wind Energy LLC to construct and operate an up-to-41-MW Large Wind Energy Conversion System (LWECS). In June 2013, the commission extended by two years the power purchase agreement filing deadline, the construction deadline, and the permit expiration date. The order also amended the site permit to change the turbine type and layout, including updated wind farm site permit conditions.

In December 2014, the commission approved the requested transfer of the site permit from Lake Country Wind Energy to Trishe Wind Minnesota. On Dec. 1, 2016, Trishe Wind filed a letter with the commission indicating that it intends to allow the site permit for the project to expire. Trishe Wind cited a number of economic factors that led to its decision, such as interconnection costs, wholesale energy pricing, and uncertainty surrounding production tax credits.

On Dec. 23, 2016, commission staff issued an information request to Trishe Wind concerning the extent of construction or physical changes that have occurred at the project site, as well as any outstanding agreements with participating landowners since permit issuance. On Dec. 30, 2016, Trishe Wind filed a response indicating that:

  • In December 2013, Trishe Wind prepared an approximately 1.5 acre gravel pad for future construction of a project substation. The gravel pad was constructed entirely on land owned by Trishe Wind. Trishe Wind explained that it intends on incorporating the substation pad into its future plans for a larger LWECS project within the site permit area. Trishe Wind stated that this was the only construction performed at the site.
  • Two temporary meteorological towers were erected at the site under private agreements in 2008 and 2010, prior to filing the application for a site permit with the commission. As with the substation pad, Trishe Wind intends on using the temporary towers to collect meteorological data for its future project to be proposed within the site permit area. Trishe Wind stated that it will continue to maintain valid leases for the two towers as long as they are in place and will decommission them if or when they are no longer needed.

Said a Jan. 4 memo to the commissioners from their staff about this situation: “Commission staff has reviewed the relevant documents in this matter and believes that under the circumstances there is sufficient reason to revoke the site permit for the 41 MW Trishe Wind Minnesota LWECS in Kandiyohi and Meeker counties. The Permitttee stated in its December 1, 2016 letter that it intends on allowing the site permit to expire and will not be requesting a permit extension. Consequently, the permittee is acknowledging that it does not intend to comply with sections 10.2 and 10.3 of the site permit which require the permittee within two years of permit issuance to: 1) obtain a power purchase agreement or other enforceable mechanism for sale of electricity, and 2) commence construction of the project. Therefore, under Minn. R. 7854.1300, subp. 3B, the Commission has the authority to revoke the site permit because the permittee has failed to comply with a material condition of the permit.”

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.