Thursday, November 5, 2009

SCC denies land owners leave to appeal

On October 22, 2009 the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) denied alberta land owners leave to appeal the approval of a merchant power line between Alberta and Montana.

In Roy Swanson Farms Ltd., et al. v. Alberta Energy and Utilities Board, et al. the SCC awarded costs to the developer of the merchant line, Montana Alberta Tie Ltd.

The 230-kilovolt private line will run from Lethbridge, Alberta to Great Falls, Montana and will be capable of moving 300 megawatts of power while allowing access to the power grid for almost $1 billion in renewable wind power projects in the USA.

This decision seems to indicate that so-called "merchant" or for-profit private electricity transmission lines can be constructed on land owners private property, without their consent, as is presently the case with other public electricity transmission lines.

SCC application for leave

The Alberta Court of Appeal Decision (Sincennes v. Alberta (Energy and Utilities Board), 2009 ABCA 167)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wind farm vs. Countryside view

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in favor of a zoning ordinance in Wabaunsee County that prohibits commercial wind farms.

This is one of the first cases in which the pursuit of wind energy conflicted with desires for unobstructed views of the countryside.

The ordinance, approved by the Wabaunsee Board of County Commissioners, states that the wind farms with towers 120 feet in height or more “would be incompatible with the rural, agricultural, and scenic character of the county.”

Several landowners, who had entered into contracts for wind farm development, sued the county commissioners, saying the prohibition was unreasonable.

But the Kansas Supreme Court agreed with a lower court finding that the county commissioners’ zoning decision was lawful. The lower court said the board took into consideration the wind farms’ impact upon the aesthetics of the county and the wishes of residents.

The landowners also contended they entered into wind leases prior to the 2004 adoption of the ban and that the county cannot pass a law that interferes with the enforcement of a contract. But the court said land use is heavily regulated and that changes in the law may alter contractual obligations.

The state Supreme Court, however, left open several other issues for further arguments. Those include whether the zoning ordinance represents a “taking” of property rights without just compensation and whether it violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. A second round of oral arguments is scheduled for January 27, 2010.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

SaskPower RFQ

SaskPower has confirmed plans to issue a formal Request for Qualifications (RFQ) on December 1, 2009 to identify qualified bidders for the upcoming solicitation for up to 175 megawatts of wind power in Saskatchewan.