Members of the North Dakota Public Service Commission are assuming that a planned wind farm will go ahead even though the utility developing it has pulled out of the project.
“As far as we know, the wind farm is proceeding as planned,” said commissioner Brian Kalk. “No has heard from enXco to the contrary that they’re still building a wind farm.”
Minnesota utility Xcel Energy announced in regulatory filing April 1 that it was abandoning plans for 150-megawatt wind farm to be built in Dickey and McIntosh counties in a partnership with enXco. Xcel was to become the owner of the project when it went on line at the end of this year.
The state’s three public service commissioners said that enXco could go ahead with the project with the expectation of working with another company or selling the power directly onto the market. EnXco announced Tuesday that it would dispute Xcel’s decision to pull out of the development.
PSC members said they want to know Xcel’s plans soon, since the company has a rate case pending with the commission asking for part of the wind farm’s costs to passed on to customers through higher rates.
“Basically, we’ve said to Xcel, You need to tell us what you’re doing,” Kalk said. “It behooves them to respond soon.”
Commissioner Tony Clark said that Xcel had earlier received OKs from the PSC of the project’s need and prudence, allowing them to include it in the company’s rate case.
“If they are backing out of the project for any reason, it has to be a good reason,” Clark said. “Undoubtedly, the commission is going to have questions.”
Commissioner Kevin Cramer wrote in an email that he would be cautious about interfering with contractual matters between Xcel and enXco and that Xcel’s decision may be warranted for business reasons.
“I am confident this thing will play itself out in an appropriate manner and we will continue to monitor it closely and intervene only where necessary under the law,” Cramer wrote.
Kalk said the wind farm was important for the power supply.
“We need generation,” he said. “We can’t projects just dropping by the wayside.”
(Reach reporter Christopher Bjorke at 250-8261 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)