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GVEA Halts Study of Renewable-power Firm’s Proposed ‘Hybrid’ Power-generating System

KUAC file photo

Golden Valley Electric Association has halted work on a study requested by a Colorado-based company and its Fairbanks partner that proposes to add 55 megawatts to the grid. Golden Valley President and CEO Cory Borgeson says GVEA last week suspended an interconnection study requested by Eco Green Generation until a federal agency certifies that the company meets requirements of a law that regulates independent power producers that generate electricity with renewable energy, like wind.

Borgeson says Golden Valley stopped work on Eco Green’s proposal after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, told GVEA officials that the agency hasn’t issued a docket number for the proposal.

“We’ve been advised by FERC that they need to do that,” he said. “And that at this point, they (Eco Green) are not a qualified facility.”

The federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act requires independent power producers like Eco Green to be certified by FERC as a so-called qualifying facility, or QF, in order to provide power to the grid produced by renewable energy. Eco Green last month proposed to sell 55 megawatts of electricity generated mainly by wind that’s backed-up by a battery-storage system and a series of propane-fired generators.

Borgeson says Golden Valley’s study already is well along.

“We’ve done quite a bit of the work,” he said, “but until we are certain that Eco Green has dotted its i’s and crossed its t’s, we’re going to stop all further work.”

Eco Green partner Mike Craft says the company filed a QF application with FERC on Dec 28, the same day it requested that Golden Valley conduct an interconnection study. So Craft says he doesn’t know why the agency hasn’t processed the company’s application and issued a docket number.

Credit KUAC file photos
GVEA President and CEO Cory Borgeson, left, and Mike Craft, Eco Green Generation partner.

“I’m not sure is it was the fact that the government was shut down or what the problem was,” he said.

Craft is a Fairbanks-based developer who built and operates a wind farm in Delta Junction. He says one of his partners in Colorado will re-file the QF application today, and this time they expect to get a prompt reply that will allow the process to move forward.

“It’s not big of a problem,” Craft said. “It’s a self-certification document. It isn’t very difficult at all to get it, because you’re using renewable energy. That qualifies you for it.”

Eco Green’s proposal includes building a 25-megawatt wind farm and a 4.4-megawatt electricity-storage battery system in Delta, along with eleven 5-megawatt propane-powered backup generators around Fairbanks and North Pole. It’s a complex proposal, Borgeson says, and he adds Golden Valley will get back to work on it when FERC has processed the Eco Green application.

“We will be glad to get back to our work, get back our models and get them the numbers,” he said. “And that could be very quickly.”

The numbers will include the price that Golden Valley would be willing to pay Eco Green for its electricity. That information would be included as part of the tariff that GVEA would file with FERC’s state counterpart, the Regulatory Commission of Alaska.

Craft says if all goes well, Eco Green will begin engineering and design work on its so-called hybrid power-generation system in the spring. He says the company plans to complete work on the system and begin generating power with it in the fall of next year

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.