Colorado PUC approves Black Hills’ revised wind proposal
DENVER (Oct. 21, 2015) — The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) today granted Black Hills/Colorado Electric authority to build and own a 60-megawatt wind farm near Pueblo that will help the company achieve renewable energy goals while minimizing cost impact to ratepayers.
The PUC, a division of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), unanimously approved a settlement reached between the company and numerous parties, including PUC staff; the Office of Consumer Counsel, also a DORA division; the Colorado Energy Office, Western Resource Advocates, Invenergy Wind Development Colorado, the Board of Water Works of Pueblo; Fountain Valley Authority; and the Rocky Mountain Environmental Labor Coalition.
In April 2015, the PUC rejected Black Hills’ proposal to acquire additional renewable energy resources, including the wind farm. The PUC ruled that the proposed options were not cost effective and would be an additional burden to ratepayers. The PUC said Black Hills could solicit new bids for the potential acquisition of a renewable energy project that were more economical and beneficial to ratepayers.
In June, 2015, the company filed a revised wind project application addressing the Commission’s concerns, which led to the proposed settlement.
In contrast to the earlier proposal that was rejected, the PUC said the settlement includes a more reasonable forecast of natural gas prices and potential customer savings; that there would be no advance of funds to the company’s Renewable Energy Standard Adjustment (RESA) deferred account; and that acquiring the wind farm would have little to no impact on ratepayers. The revised proposal will also substantially improve Black Hills’ ability to comply with the state’s Renewable Energy Standard.
The proposed Peak View Wind project is expected to include 34 turbines on approximately 31,000 acres in Huerfano and Las Animas counties. The proposed project launch is Jan. 1, 2016 and the in-service date is scheduled for Nov. 15, 2016, to meet the eligibility requirements for the federal Production Tax Credit and the Colorado Enterprise Zone Investment Tax Credit.
At its deliberations today, the PUC also approved a 2015-17 Renewable Energy Standard compliance plan for Black Hills that increases program capacity for community solar gardens; is designed to ensure that low-income customers can participate in solar gardens; and ensures that Black Hills can acquire all resources in the compliance plan without advancing funds to the RESA deferred account.
Terry Bote, Public Utilities Commission