Articles from Montana
SDG&E filed a lawsuit Dec. 19 in California Superior Court seeking to terminate the power purchase and investment contracts alleging NaturEner did not meet avian protections called for in the contracts. Late last month, it filed an amended complaint alleging NaturEner fraudulently concealed that federal wildlife officials recommend an eagle take permit.
Spanish developer NaturEner is denying fraud allegations by California offtaker San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) in a legal dispute over the 189MW Rim Rock wind farm in Montana. The utility claims NaturEner fraudulently concealed that the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recommended the developer get an eagle take permit for the project.
A California utility that invested in a Montana wind farm has accused the developer of fraudulently concealing that federal wildlife officials recommended the project get a permit in case it harms eagles.
Several small power projects in Montana complained to FERC in June, arguing that Montana's rules require some projects to win a competitive bid, but NorthWestern Energy doesn't offer enough bidding opportunities.
SDG&E has said in court documents that the project could still kill, displace or disturb eagles. The utility says NaturEner concealed that possibility until last December, when it turned over documents revealing the birds were at risk.
Gilbert's order does not appear to prevent SDG&E from backing out of a separate 2012 contract in which it pledged to invest $285 million in the project. But after NaturEner filed its own suit in Montana, Gilbert on Monday ordered SDG&E to continue making payments to NaturEner until attorneys for the two sides appear in her court.
SDG&E alleges that NaturEner misrepresented the risks of the wind farm to birds in order to secure financing for the project and did not meet conditions set forth in the contract related to avian protection.
A California utility that wants to back out of a northwest Montana wind power project is asking a federal judge to decide if the wind farm’s developers did enough to protect a nearby cluster of golden eagles.
“Had SDG&E been aware of the truth, it very likely would not have entered into contracts involving hundreds of millions of dollars,” SDG&E’s suit states. The San Diego utility may be leery of the Montana project’s impacts on golden eagles following its own violations while building another major construction effort.
San Diego Gas and Electric filed a lawsuit Thursday in San Diego Superior Court against Rim Rock wind farm owner NaturEner asking the court to confirm its allegation that the company did not meet contractual requirements related to the preservation of eagles, raptors and other protected bird and bat species. “Unfortunately, the project’s owner, NaturEner, did not meet its contractual requirements, so SDG&E has decided not to make the investment in Rim Rock or to continue purchasing its renewable energy credits.”
NaturEner, which owns and operates three wind farms in Montana, sued a California utility on Friday for breaching contracts to invest in the Rim Rock wind farm. The lawsuit also seeks to prevent the utility from reneging on its contractual promise to buy the renewable energy generated at the facility.
Since the wind farm became operational in October 2012, two raptor fatalities have been documented, Copeland said. That is “an extraordinary number” compared to higher figures documented at 20 wind farms in similar raptor habitat in the Pacific Northwest, he said.
A subsidiary of gas utility owner New Jersey Resources will spend $22 million to acquire and build a wind farm in Montana, its first onshore wind project, the company said Wednesday.
Toward the conclusion of the meeting, Clare rose to speak. "After everything you guys have said today, I still believe in wind energy to a point. I think the best move is to do a study - take a year and see if the study looks really good. It was good for all of us to come together," she said. ...At the conclusion of the meeting, BLUAC Chairman Shelley Gonzales said she would not have voted for the permit because wind turbines are not specifically mentioned in county zoning regulations.
At the turbine's current rate of power production, it would take the county 33.70 years to recover its $201,924 investment ..."We needed to get a payback in 25 years because that was the expected life of the unit," Commission Chairman Joe Briggs said. The turbine currently is idle because of a parts malfunction, which isn't helping matters.
NorthWestern says it's merely trying to manage its electricity supply and prevent unneeded costs of these contracts from being foisted onto consumers. "There is a limit on how much (wind power) we can have and still have a reliable portfolio for customers," said John Hines, NorthWestern's vice president of electric supply. "There is only so much intermittent (power) supply we can have in our portfolio without substantial changes that we must make."
A bill that would roll back some of the eminent domain powers granted by the 2011 Montana Legislature was debated Tuesday in Helena before a packed house at the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee.
In a clear reference to wind power, Gallagher said all five of the PSC's Republican members "campaigned against the concept of using the utility bill to force Montana's families and employers to be unwilling investors in high-cost, low-output, intermittent generation and other programs that at present can exist only through government mandates and substantial tax and ratepayer subsidies."
The wind-power production tax credit pays project owners $22 for every megawatt hour (mwh) of electricity they produce. In the Pacific Northwest right now, spot-market prices for electricity are averaging $25 per mwh. So, while sellers of other types of power get $25 per mwh, a wind-power plant will get $47 per mwh, with the subsidy.
Van Jamison, a vice president for Gaelectric, an Irish firm developing several wind projects in Montana, says in the past few months, scores of potential wind projects here have withdrawn their spot from the queue for transmission of their power, meaning they've pulled back on their plans. "This is not a very robust market, where you'll be able to make any kind of money any time soon."