Major Minnesota Wind Project On The Verge Of Collapse

A major Minnesota wind project which initially saw investment from billionaire T. Boone Pickens before being sold to New Era is on the ropes. “New Era has no confidence that due process for this project will ever end, nor that an ABPP (Avian and Bat Protection Plan) will ever be approved, however comprehensively and carefully drafted,” New Era’s Peter Mastic said in an email to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission back in June.

The project has been plagued with complaints from those who live around it, and from those concerned about the impact on birds, and now Xcel Energy (which has a 20-year contract to buy power from the project) wants out:

Legal documents filed by Xcel Energy in Minnesota District Court in Minneapolis on June 14 allege that New Era failed to meet several conditions of a power purchasing agreement with the utility’s Northern States Power unit. The utility acknowledges in the court filing that New Era disputes “the magnitude and quality of its contract breaches and has called into question NSP’s right to terminate the Agreements”.

Xcel alleges that New Era failed to:

* Advance construction of the project in the required timeframes or provide a plan to further construction
* Establish a security fund to protect NSP in the event of project delays
* Pay liquidated delay damages in the amounts and timeframes stipulated
* Obtain NSP’s prior written approval for the change in control/ownership

“Opponents say this would be the first Minnesota wind generation project to fail to move forward primarily due to citizens questioning the impact and benefits of wind generation,” reports WatchDog.org. Maybe citizens are waking up to the fact that wind energy doesn’t work.

Not without heavy subsidies from the government.

Xcel signed the contract to buy New Era’s wind-generated power as part of a bid to comply with Minnesota’s renewable energy policies which require the utility to get 31.5% of its energy from so-called green power. But with the development of this wind farm on the skids, Xcel is scrambling to find alternate ways to meet the mandate.

Which illustrates what poor policy such mandates are. They’re pushing utilities into using power from sources that are hugely expensive, extremely unreliable and which have environmental impacts not well considered at the time the mandates were put in place.

We’d be better off ending the mandates, and letting the market dictate where we get our power from.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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