Grid connection in costly delay trap -- Grid connection in costly delay trap

German wind company Ventus has protested publicly over the lacking grid connection to its 16 MW Jacobsdorf wind station. The connection is caught up in a dispute between the project's developer and local utility. The idle plant is losing up to DEM 20,000 a day.

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Wielding a giant electric plug, Ralph Ehricke and Wolfgang Kühn from German wind company Ventus symbolically connected a 16 MW wind farm to the grid on March 1. The real grid connection of the Jacobsdorf wind station in Brandenburg is still awaited, caught up in a dispute between the project's developer, Neue Energie Verbund AG (Nevag), and local utility, E-dis Energie Nord. The idle plant -- ready since December -- is losing up to DEM 20,000 a day, says Ulrich Herbold of Ventus, a Brandenburg firm for wind plant administration.

At the graphic demonstration of utility recalcitrance on March 1, Kühn regretted the necessity of such a public protest. "But we can't and won't accept the behaviour of E-dis Energie Nord any longer. E-dis's delaying tactics are damaging the image of Brandenburg and sending the wrong signals to investors and banks," he complains.

The problems apparently started when E-dis, founded in April 1999 from the merger of three utilities, took over negotiations from local utility OSE. Major utility PreussenElektra holds a majority stake in E-dis, which, according to Ehricke, is now demanding DEM 1.8 million after protracted talks for a switching station which Ventus estimates costs DEM 400,000. Even though Ventus has already deposited DEM 1 million for the switching station, says Ehricke, the utility refuses to provide a breakdown of the costs. Meantime, Ventus has bought and installed a second switching station on its own account.

Ventus also claims that E-dis required a certified test report on the electrical installations, even though this is not legally necessary. The report is now delivered and work on an E-dis transformer station is pending. E-dis's Horst Jordan cannot say, however, when grid connection will take place.

When eventually connected, the DEM 40 million wind station, located near Briesen, will add to the 464 MW from 791 turbinesalready connected to the E-dis grid, the utility says. Renewable energies, mainly wind, now contribute about 5% to E-dis total power sales, and applications for the installation of another 3185 wind turbines are being processed, the utility reports.

Ventus hopes other wind station planners and operators with similar negative experience can pool their knowledge. The Brandenburg Economics Ministry has taken note of the case and requested a statement from E-dis, the utility confirms.

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