Invenergy’s planned 2 GW Wind Catcher facility – which, once built, would be the U.S.’ biggest wind farm – is facing opposition from Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter, who claims Public Service Co. of Oklahoma (PSO), which plans to purchase 30% of the wind farm, did not adhere to competitive bidding regulations.
PSO and Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) – which are both utility subsidiaries of Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power – are asking utility regulators in Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma to approve plans to purchase the wind farm from Invenergy upon completion of construction, as well as to build the associated power line to serve PSO’s and SWEPCO’s more than 1.1 million customers.
The Oklahoman reports that Hunter’s public utilities division has filed a motion for Oklahoma’s regulators to reject PSO’s pre-approval request and dismiss the case. If they do not do so, however, the PSO must pay for the cost of having Hunter represent Oklahomans going forward in the case, the motion requests.
“The attorney general’s full participation is essential, as PSO’s customers are at risk to bear the $1.36 billion cost of the Wind Catcher project if the commission grants PSO’s requested relief,” the motion states.
According to The Oklahoman, the AG’s office claims construction on the project began before the utility applied for pre-approval, which includes a waiver from competitive bidding rules. However, waivers must be submitted before construction starts, according to the motion.
PSO has reportedly responded that Wind Catcher “must be completed in a time frame that wouldn’t be feasible with the process required by the competitive bidding rules.” In addition, the “unique nature” of the wind farm and “lack of comparable options in the market” would also not allow a competitive bidding process.
Besides claiming PSO did not adhere to competitive bidding rules, Hunter says PSO does not need the new power generation to begin with, the report says.
The GE-powered wind farm is expected to be fully operational in mid-2020. Invenergy is contracted to operate the facility for the first five years; then, SWEPCO will own 70%, including 1,400 MW of wind, and PSO will own 30%, including 600 MW of wind.
According to Invenergy and GE, Wind Catcher Energy Connection is expected to save SWEPCO and PSO customers more than $7 billion, net of cost, over 25 years.