Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO), an American Electric Power (AEP) company, has announced the Louisiana Public Service Commission’s (LPSC) approval of the proposed Wind Catcher Energy Connection project.
Wind Catcher Energy Connection is a major wind farm and a dedicated power line that will bring energy to AEP customers in Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. The $4.5 billion project includes the acquisition of a 2 GW wind farm under construction in the Oklahoma Panhandle and the construction of an approximately 350-mile power line that will carry the wind energy to the Tulsa area, where the existing grid will deliver it to customers. SWEPCO will own 70% of the project, and SWEPCO’s sister company, Public Service Co. of Oklahoma (PSO), will own 30%.
“Wind Catcher is a major investment in clean energy that will produce long-term savings for Louisiana customers and further diversify our energy resource mix,” says Nicholas K. Akins, AEP chairman, president and CEO. “After an extensive review, including the significant performance guarantees that were developed during the process, the Louisiana Public Service Commission’s decision recognizes the benefits Wind Catcher will bring to Louisiana customers.”
Key elements of the settlement agreement approved by the LPSC are guarantees agreed to by SWEPCO, including a cap on construction costs, qualification for 100% of the federal production tax credit (PTC), minimum annual production from the project, and other commitments.
SWEPCO anticipates the project will save its customers more than $4 billion over the 25-year life of the wind farm, compared to the projected costs of buying power on the open market. Customers will see savings primarily through a reduction in the fuel portion of their bills beginning in 2021.
The economic impact of the project will include Louisiana manufacturing of key components of the project’s 800 wind turbines, to be supplied by GE Renewable Energy, notes SWEPCO.
“By tapping into this exceptional wind resource, we are further diversifying our energy resource mix and delivering long-term savings to the Louisiana customers and communities we serve,” says Malcolm Smoak, SWEPCO’s president and chief operating officer. “Lower costs will benefit families, businesses and communities and make Louisiana more attractive for economic development.”
The wind farm is under development by Invenergy in Cimarron and Texas counties in the Oklahoma Panhandle. SWEPCO and PSO will purchase the facility at completion, which is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2020.
SWEPCO, which serves more than 231,000 customers in Louisiana, filed its application with the LPSC on July 31, 2017.
The Wind Catcher project also remains subject to the approval of SWEPCO’s application in Texas and PSO’s application in Oklahoma. Six parties have joined with PSO in a settlement agreement pending before the Oklahoma Corporate Commission. The Arkansas Public Service Commission approved the project on May 8.