San Diego, CA, June 8, 2011 -The Merricourt Wind Project today received its Certificate of Site Compatibility from the North Dakota Public Service Commission, delivering the final state approval required for the project. Its developer, enXco, is ready to build the project on schedule if the utility purchaser settles litigation in order to resume the contract.
Merricourt is a 150-megawatt project being developed in southeastern North Dakota by enXco, an EDF Energies Nouvelles Company (PARIS: EEN). enXco and Xcel Energy announced plans to develop and build the Merricourt Wind Project in November 2008. Xcel recently filed suit in an attempt to abrogate its contract to purchase the project on the basis that project was not permitted following several procedural and weather delays. enXco countersued to uphold the contract but has offered to begin settlement talks in order to see the project built.
"As we committed to Xcel in 2008, the project is fully permitted and ready to commence construction. We remain dedicated to our contractual obligations with Xcel and would be happy to build this project within the stipulated schedule rather than pursue legal action," said Tristan Grimbert, President & CEO of enXco.
"Today marks a crucial milestone in the development of this important renewable energy project to our nation's energy infrastructure," said Steve Peluso, enXco's Senior Vice President for Origination. "We applaud the commission for understanding the importance of this project in helping our nation become less dependent on foreign oil, the value of renewable energy and the economic benefits this project brings to the local community. We also appreciate their recognition that Merricourt is located in an area highly suitable for wind development and deserves to be built after eight years implementing best in class development practices."
Merricourt will consist of 100 wind turbines and encompass approximately 18 square miles southeast of Kulm, on the eastern edge of McIntosh County and western edge of Dickey County. It will provide renewable energy to approximately 43,500 homes and millions of dollars in economic benefits to the local area. The project will also provide 150 construction jobs and 10 long-term, full-time positions once in operation.
The project received approval in May 2009 by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and later in August 2009, the North Dakota Public Service Commission approved the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. The issuance of the Certificate of Site Compatibility now allows the project to move into construction phase.
enXco has also received acknowledgment from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service regarding the company's development of an Avian and Bat Protection Plan (ABPP) and commitment of $1.3 million to support habitat conservation for the whooping crane and piping plover. This is the latest result of a two-year process in which enXco has worked closely with the Service to study and address potential wildlife effects.