EDF Renewable Energy (EDF RE), has lost another battle over its 150-MW Merricourt wind project in North Dakota after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last week confirmed termination of the project's grid contract.
This canceling of contract will potentially have a severe effect on the development of the Merricourt project, in which the developer says it has already invested more than USD 20 million (EUR 18m), including USD 17.8 million to pay for already completed upgrades to the Montana-Dakota electric transmission network.
EDF RE also noted it had already acquired 10% of the 75 Vestas V100 2MW turbines for the site and full commercial operation is technically possible by end of this year.
The company, a unit of EDF Energies Nouvelles (EDF EN), the renewables arm of French energy group EDF SA (EPA:EDF), now has 30 days from the date of the FERC order (March 4, 2016) to seek rehearing by the regulator, and any FERC decision on rehearing may be further appealed to the US Court of Appeals.
In December 2015, electricity grid operator Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (MISO) notified EDF RE that the grid contract will be terminated as the developer failed to meet the December 1, 2015 deadline to start commercial operation. MISO also refused the one-year extension requested by EDF RE, saying it would be unfair to other projects waiting for connection.
The Merricourt project has been plagued with problems since the start of development in 2008. Just before achieving fully-permitted stage in June 2011, the project lost its USD 380 million power purchase agreement with Xcel Energy Inc. The latter terminated the contract after EDF RE (then known as enXco) failed to secure a site permit from state regulators by March 31, 2011. The delay was blamed in part on concerns about the potential effects of the wind project on the endangered whooping crane and threatened piping plover.