Wind developer EnXco won approval from North Dakota regulators to build its latest 150-turbine wind farm. A minor problem may be that the company does not yet have a customer for power from the Merricourt Wind Project. Intended buyer Xcel Energy dropped out in April, citing issues with protecting two endangered birds.
EnXco President and CEO Tristan Grimbert says his company still wants to build the project with Xcel’s participation even though the two are argueing over the termination. He said the project could be completed this year. “Issues that Xcel raised in the termination have been dealt with,” Grimbert said. One issue, EnXco now has an agreement with U.S. wildlife officials on how to protect the piping plover and whooping crane. EnXco would be willing to talk to Xcel about reducing the $400 million price tag, recognizing that the cost of wind power has declined in the past three years. If the project isn’t built, he said, EnXco faces a significant loss because it has committed to buy 100 GE turbines.
EnXco must decide whether to move ahead without a second company, which would mean further costs and risks. Grimbert says it’s possible, but unlikely. No other utility is ready to step into the project.