The Montana Public Service Commission voted to allow two other alternative energy developers to join the case between the Beaver Creek Wind projects and Northwestern Energy.
Travis Kavulla, Vice Chair of the Commission, said, “How would the public interest be harmed if we did not limit participation? Almost invariably, the answer to that question is this: our proceedings are better off by having more people inside the tent.”
Caithness Beaver Creek, administrative service provider for four wind development projects known as Beaver Creek 1, 2, 3 and 4, asked the PSC to set terms and conditions for its contract with Northwestern Energy. Under the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), NorthWestern is required to buy the power. If the two parties can’t come to an agreement on price, they can ask the PSC to intervene. Caithness Beaver Creek filed a petition for PSC action on August 10, 2018.
Jawbone Holdings, LLC, another company engaged in the development of renewable energy projects that would be regulated under PURPA, petitioned for intervention in the Beaver Creek docket. They argued that, being in the same industry, they were directly affected by how the PSC might set rates in this case.
Intervention allows the developers to ask formal questions of the other parties, to present expert testimony in the proceeding, and to participate through legal counsel in the eventual hearing on the matter.
Pattern Energy Group 2 LP, another developer of Qualifying Facilities under PURPA, also petitioned for intervenor status. They argued that developments in this case might impact some of their ongoing renewable energy projects.
Caithness Beaver Creek objected to these petitions for intervention, arguing that simply being in the same industry was not enough interest in the proceedings at hand to justify intervenor status.
The Commission voted to allow the interventions 4-1.
Commissioner Tony O’Donnell dissented, asking, “How is the public interest served by letting more parties in?”