The New York State Public Service Commission on April 18 said that it has approved the construction and operation of Ball Hill Wind Energy, LLC’s wind electric generating facility in Chautauqua County that is expected to produce about 100 MW of electric generating capacity using wind turbines located in the towns of Villenova and Hanover.
The facility will include 29 turbines, 23 of which will be built in Villenova and six in Hanover, the commission said, adding that the facility will also include an approximate 25.6-mile, 34.5-kV, mostly underground electrical collection system, as well as a new substation to interconnect with the National Grid 230-kV system in Hanover.
As noted in the commission’s order, Ball Hill states that it initially plans to sell project energy, capacity, and ancillary services into the competitive wholesale markets in New York, which are administered by the New York ISO (NYISO). The project will also sell renewable energy credits (RECs) to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).
Ball Hill claims that the layout of the facility was optimized to reduce environmental impacts to the maximum extent practicable, the commission said in its order, adding that the project site encompasses about 256.6 acres in total, of which about 147.6 acres is located in Villenova and about 109 acres is located in Hanover.
The commission noted that the project will further various policy objectives identified in the most recent State Energy Plan update, such as coordinating with the Reforming the Energy Vision initiative to increase reliance on renewable energy resources, reduce greenhouse gas and total carbon emissions, and stabilize energy costs. The commission said that given such anticipated benefits, it disagrees with the suggestions raised by certain commenters that the project is not needed and rejects the contention that other fossil-fueled generation facilities would provide a suitable alternative.
Among other things, the commission said that it requires the “decommissioning security” provided to Villenova and Hanover to be in the form of a letter of credit, noting that the project will have a useful life of at least 20 years. Decommissioning funds must be available to the towns over the entire course of the project’s useful life, the commission said, adding that letters of credit provide certainty and security that the funds will be readily available if Ball Hill, or its successor-in-interest, is insolvent and cannot pay to decommission the project.
The CPCN issued with the order, therefore, includes a specific condition that Ball Hill obtain an agreement from Villenova and Hanover to hold the letters of credit. The commission added that those agreements should be obtained at least 90 days prior to construction and submitted for approval as a compliance filing.
Ball Hill is to, within 60 days of the issuance of the order and every two years thereafter, file with the commission secretary and the towns of Villenova and Hanover an updated decommissioning cost study in conformance with the requirements set forth in the order.
In addition, the commission said, Ball Hill Wind Energy is to file with the secretary the joint wetlands permit when it is issued by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
As noted in the order, Ball Hill is a wholly owned subsidiary of Renewable Energy Systems Americas, Inc.