POWER Notebook: Wind Project Will Use Oyster Creek Nuclear Site; Other Solar, Wind Farms Announced

Ocean Wind Gets NJ BPU Backing for Oyster Creek Wind Project. Ocean Wind LLC this month received support from New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to develop a wind project with both offshore and onshore components, with a connection to the grid at the site of the former Oyster Creek nuclear station.

Ocean Wind, the parent of Danish energy company Ørsted, in June won approval from the BPU to build a 1,100-MW wind facility off the coast from Atlantic City. Ørsted was choosing among Atlantic City, Ocean City, and Ocean County as the location for a land-based substation. Ocean Wind proposed to mitigate the costs of transmission system upgrades through the use of capacity interconnection rights, and the BPU on Sept. 11 said Ocean Wind’s procurement of Oyster Creek’s capacity interconnection rights is in the best interest of the state’s ratepayers.

“Last week we experienced a project milestone when the BPU approved our request to purchase capacity interconnection rights, known as CIRs, for our Ocean Wind project,” said Lauren Burm, head of Public Affairs and Communications for Ørsted, in a statement Sept. 16. “This action provides the project with additional certainty in the interconnection process and advances our efforts to potentially connect the wind farm to the existing electrical grid infrastructure at the retired Oyster Creek nuclear facility.

“The region’s grid operator, PJM, allows retiring or [recently retired] power plants the ability to sell CIRs to proposed power generators such as Ocean Wind,” Burm said. “These rights allow newly proposed generators the ability to replace the retired/retiring generator at a similar scale at the same or nearby location without significant costs allocated to the new project. Without CIRs, interconnection costs can be highly uncertain and potentially very costly as determined by extensive study by the grid operator, PJM.”

The Oyster Creek nuclear station closed in September 2018. It had been the nation’s oldest operating nuclear power plant before its closure.

Construction of the wind farm is expected to start in the next couple of years, with the project expected to come online in 2024.

Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, in a statement said, “Oyster Creek is a very good location for Ørsted to build an offshore wind farm. There are substations and power lines already in place to connect to. This is important to get the power on land without building any more power lines. It is important that the former nuclear station will be replaced by reliable and cost-effective energy that will reduce greenhouse gases and help the state move forward on renewable energy.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has set a goal for the state to have at least 3,500 MW of offshore wind by 2030, with a goal of 100% clean energy for the state by 2050.

Invenergy Announces New Solar Projects. Invenergy Solar Development North America announced it would start construction later this year on large solar PV farm project in southern Indiana. The company on Sept. 12 said the Fairbanks Solar Energy Center would include about 580,000 solar panels on an 1,800-acre site near Fairbanks in Sullivan County, south of Terre Haute. Invenergy said its current plan calls for bringing the 250-MW plant online by year-end 2023.

Power from the solar farm would be sold on the wholesale market, according to an Invenergy filing with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. Selling to the wholesale power market means Invenergy will not recover costs from Indiana ratepayers through a base rate, rate of return, or other comparable method associated with a retail public utility.

The filing also said, “Transmission and substation facilities are planned to be situated in Sullivan County.” The IURC still must approve the project, with a decision expected at an Oct. 1 IURC meeting.

The announcement of the Indiana project comes about one month after Invenergy said it plans to develop a 127-MW solar project in Montezuma County in southwest Colorado. Invenergy said that project, like the Fairbanks solar farm, is expected online by year-end 2023. The Colorado project is conditional on a power purchase agreement with electric cooperative Tri-State Generation and Transmission.

Tri-State in June issued a request for proposals for 15- to 20-year renewable energy projects capable of generating between 10 MW and 200 MW on 13 June. Tri-State at the time said winning projects will be picked by the end of the year. Invenergy’s proposed solar farm would be Tri-State’s largest solar PV plant to date.

Wind Farm Approved After Four-Year Review. A wind farm project in western New York has finally been approved to move forward, four years after its regulatory review was begun. The Baron Winds project, with 68 turbines spread across four towns in Steuben County, southeast of Buffalo, was backed by the state’s Siting Board, part of the Public Service Commission (PSC), last week.

The 242-MW project will be built and operated by a subsidiary of Innogy, a German energy company. The turbines, each 492 feet tall, will be built on private agricultural and recreational land in the towns of Cohocton, Dansville, Fremont, and Wayland. Power from the wind farm will go to the grid through New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) transmission lines. NYSEG is a subsidiary of Avangrid.

The project has payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements that will provide local governments with about $26 million over 20 years. The host towns will receive estimated payments of about $12 million during that period under separate agreements.

The PSC in a statement announcing the project’s approval said, “The Siting Board examiners determined that the wind farm will be a beneficial addition to the electric generation capacity of the state and is consistent with the state’s energy policy and planning objectives. The facility will also serve the goals of improving fuel diversity, grid reliability, and modernization of grid infrastructure.”

A second project planned in Steuben County, called the Canisteo Wind Farm, is undergoing a similar review process. That 290-MW project could have as many as 120 turbines.

POWER staff (@POWERmagazine).