SALT LAKE CITY, UT--(Marketwired - Mar 18, 2014) - A bill passed the Utah House and Senate unanimously requiring merchant transmission developers to provide the Utah Office of Energy Development with notice of "the location of potential interconnection for in-state merchant generators." HB 44 Fourth Substitute, a bill supported by Blue Castle Holdings, will now be sent to Governor Herbert for his signature.
The drivers for the bill originated last summer when a High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission project indicated that it would not provide a connection to Utah generators while using Utah transmission corridors. At the time, the Utah Public Service Commission (PSC) Chairman indicated that it was unclear whether PSC had jurisdiction to require state approval of such a project.
Furthermore, it was also unclear whether the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) would consider Utah responses for export capacity under the "Open Solicitation Process," as outlined in its Order 1000 Final Policy Statement, if a solicitation by a transmission developer does not specifically include an interconnection in Utah. The reason for this uncertainty is found in the Final Policy Statement which states, "The Commission believes that the matter of HVDC-specific interconnection procedures is similarly outside the scope of this final policy statement."
Aaron Tilton, Blue Castle's President and CEO, explained, "As a potential exporter of power, we had a genuine concern about the limited corridors for sitting new transmission. With several new interstate transmission projects planning to build new lines through Utah we wanted to make sure Utah's in-state generators interests in export capacity were represented."
Blue Castle is very grateful for the coalition of support for the bill by other in-state generators, especially Energy Capital Group LLC and SunEdison. Josh Case, CEO at Energy Capital Group, currently developing a 300 megawatt solar project in Millard County, Utah (www.ecgutahsolar1.com), commented: "The passing of HB44 makes the statement that Utah leaders are looking out for the interests of Utah's independent power producers. We appreciated working with Blue Castle on this bill. Nuclear power and renewable projects can work together to provide clean energy and jobs for Utah."
Rep. Steve Handy, the Vice Chair of the Standing Public Utilities and Technology Committee and the House sponsor of the bill, said after is unanimous passage: "This bill's purpose is to place a stake in the ground demonstrating the State of Utah will protect its energy industries interests, while at the same time continuing to be business friendly to out of state interests. If conflicts of interest occur again, we now have a framework in place to resolve the issues, as needed."
The requirements under HB 44 Fourth Substitute builds a framework under which a transmission developer "that does not provide electric service to retail customers" in Utah must provide an opportunity to Utah's merchant generators to respond to a solicitation for export capacity on the proposed new transmission lines.
"There is a good balance in the final bill. Sen. Allen Christensen and I facilitated negotiations on the key provisions with the parties to protect Utah's interests. This was a work in progress for several weeks," said Sen. Curt Bramble, the bill's Senate sponsor.
The proposed multi-unit Blue Castle Nuclear Project could increase the electricity generated in Utah by approximately 50%, by adding 2,200 - 3,000 Megawatts of installed electrical capacity. It is expected that about 1,000 permanent full-time employees will work at the plant for 60 years, and that more than 2,500 workers will work during the projected six year construction of the multi-unit plant.
About Blue Castle Holdings
Blue Castle Holdings Inc. (BCH or the Company) is an energy infrastructure development company based in Utah. It is presently developing the leading new nuclear plant project site in the Western U.S.
More information about Blue Castle Holdings can be found at: www.bluecastleproject.com
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