Wheatridge Wind seeks interconnect order for 500-MW project in Oregon

Wheatridge Wind Energy LLC on Jan. 6 asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for an order requiring Umatilla Electric Cooperative (UEC) to interconnect with Wheatridge’s 500-MW wind project and to provide transmission service to a substation owned and operated by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA).

Wheatridge said that UEC is willing to design, construct, own and operate the interconnection and transmission facilities necessary to accommodate Wheatridge’s request but requires a commission order to clarify that UEC’s provision of such service is consistent with the requirements of a transmitting utility under Sections 210, 211, and 212 of the Federal Power Act. Wheatridge requests that the commission issue its final order within 90 days of this application (by April 5) so as not to delay the timely development of the project.

Wheatridge is developing a wind generation facility that will have a maximum nominal generating capacity of 500 MW and will be located in eastern Oregon in Morrow and Umatilla counties. The project will utilize an internal conductor to aggregate and transmit the energy from the turbines to a project collector substation in Morrow County. Wheatridge proposes to interconnect the collector substation with UEC’s system through facilities to be constructed by UEC and transmit all the energy generated by the project to BPA’s Morrow Flats substation.

A request for interconnection and point-to-point transmission service was submitted to UEC in July 2010 by 2Morrow Energy LLC, and a Deposit Agreement was entered into by 2Morrow with UEC for transmission of 1,012 MW of electrical power across UEC’s transmission system. 2Morrow subsequently assigned to Wheatridge all of 2Morrow’s right, title and interest in the 1,012 MW of transmission service it had requested.

In August 2011, Wheatridge also submitted to UEC a point-to-point transmission service request and deposit for an additional 238 MW of capacity on the UEC transmission system.

UEC is a not-for-profit rural electric cooperative operating in Morrow and Umatilla counties, Oregon. UEC is exempt from commission regulation as a public utility pursuant to section 201(f) of the FPA. Notwithstanding this exemption, UEC has long provided wheeling service to third parties across its system under non-discriminatory rates, terms and conditions and is a transmitting utility as defined by the FPA.

Wheatridge said it and UEC have entered into several letters of intent and other agreements for the purpose of identifying a route and the UEC infrastructure that would be necessary for a 230-kV transmission line to connect the project’s facilities to a BPA substation.

While UEC will design, construct, own and operate the necessary generator interconnection and transmission facilities, Wheatridge, as the first party to use the UEC 230-kV line, will pay all capital costs for the construction of the UEC 230-kV line and interconnection facilities and thereafter will receive transmission revenue credits (up to the amount of its capital contribution) from wholesale transmission service revenues received by UEC from service provided to third parties using the excess capacity of the line, should any such revenues ever be collected by UEC.

The project’s wind turbines will fall within the franchised retail service territories of both UEC and a neighboring electric distribution cooperative, Columbia Basin Electric Cooperative (CBEC) which, like UEC, is not a public utility. About 20 miles of the primary route corridor for the UEC 230-kV line traverses CBEC’s franchised retail service territory.

The Jan. 6 application added: “Wheatridge requests the Commission to issue an order under FPA Sections 210 and 211 to require UEC to interconnect with the Project and provide the point-to-point transmission service required by Wheatridge to transmit the energy from the Project to the BPA transmission system for sale into the wholesale market. UEC has informed Wheatridge that UEC desires to provide these services and, as noted above, Wheatridge and UEC have entered into the 2015 [letter of intent] and the Facilities Agreement for that purpose. As a transmitting utility UEC understands that it is obligated to provide the service requested by Wheatridge. However, UEC requires a Commission order under FPA Sections 210 and 211 to clarify that the service to be provided for Wheatridge – more specifically the provision of generator interconnection and transmission service to the bulk electric grid – is subject to the Commission’s jurisdiction and not limited by state law affecting franchised retail service territories.

“Accordingly, Wheatridge is seeking such a Commission determination that requiring UEC to provide the interconnection and transmission services proposed in this application would meet the standards of FPA sections 210, 211 and 212.5 The proposed order requested here would remove these jurisdictional uncertainties, thereby advancing the development of the Project and associated interconnection and transmission facilities by confirming that the services UEC will be ordered to provide are required of UEC as a transmitting utility under the FPA and are not inconsistent with Oregon law allocating retail service territories between distribution utilities.”

Approval of the Wheatridge project pending at Oregon council

The Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council (EFSC) in  August 2016 issued a proposed order on the 500-MW Wheatridge Wind Energy Facility. A final order had not been issued as of Jan. 9. The Aug. 5 proposed order recommends that the EFSC approve the application and grant a Site Certificate, subject to the conditions in the order.

The proposed facility would consist of up to 292 wind turbines divided into two groups: Wheatridge West and Wheatridge East. Related and supporting facilities include: up to two parallel overhead 230‐kV transmission lines connecting Wheatridge West and Wheatridge East (intraconnection transmission line); 34.5‐kV collector lines and substations; meteorological towers; communications and supervisory control and data acquisition systems; operations and maintenance buildings; access roads; temporary construction areas; and temporary concrete batch plants.

The proposed facility consists of up to 292 turbines with a combined peak generating capacity of up to 500 MW. The applicant analyzed impacts for two different turbine models; therefore, the actual nameplate capacity depends on the turbine model selected and the number of turbines constructed. Selected turbines would range from 1.7 to 2.5 MW, with rotor diameters ranging from 337 to 393 feet and blades between 167 and 197 feet in length.

The applicant is Wheatridge Wind Energy LLC, a wholly‐owned subsidiary of Swaggart Wind Power LLC. The department received the preliminary application for the Site Certificate in December 2014.

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.