Wind Farms Say Utility Must Buy Their Power

(CN) – A dozen John Deere-owned wind farms in the Texas Panhandle say a utility company violates sate and federal laws by refusing to buy the electricity the windmills generate. Federal law requires public utilities to buy wind power from small wind farms whether they want to or not, the plaintiffs say. And in the absence of a formal agreement with a utility, the wind farms say they can choose how to calculate the cost of the energy.




     Eleven JD Wind farms and High Plains Wind Power, each a wholly owned subsidiary of John Deere Renewables, sued Austin-based Southwestern Public Service Company in Travis County Court, Austin.
     They say the utility has refused to pay for their wind energy since 2005.
     The complaint is meant to toll the statute of limitations for the claim.
     A related federal action (JD Wind 1 LLC et al. v. Smitherman et al.) challenges the Public Utility Commission of Texas’ dismissal of a complaint the wind farms filed to enforce their rights.
     The PUC held that a utility is not obliged to pay “forecast avoided cost pricing” to small wind farms and solar-energy generators, but JD Farms say federal law is on their side.
     The wind farms say they can name their price “based on avoided costs forecast at the time the legally enforceable obligation is incurred” under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978.
     The Act also gives wind farms the right to create a “noncontractual, but still legally enforceable, obligation” with a utility if it refuses to enter into a contract, the wind farms say.
     SPS refused to enter into formal contracts with JD Farms when the first farms began generating power in 2005.
     The wind farms want SPS to pay for energy going back to 2005, and unspecified damages.
     They are represented by Thomas Anson with Strasburger & Price in Austin.

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