Louisiana regulators approve Wind Catcher project

by Talk Business & Politics staff (staff2@talkbusiness.net) 143 views 

The Louisiana Public Service Commission has approved the proposed Wind Catcher Energy Connection project, according to Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO), a company of Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power (AEP).

The $4.5 billion project includes a 2,000-megawatt wind farm and 350-mile transmission line, delivering electricity to AEP customers in Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. SWEPCO will own 70% of the project and sister company Public Service Company 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 diversity our energy resource mix,” said Nicholas 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.”

Elements of the agreement include a cap on construction costs, qualification for 100% of the federal Production Tax Credits, and minimum annual production from the project, according to a news release. SWEPCO expects the project will save customers more than $4 billion over the 25-year life of the wind farm, compared to buying power on the open market. Customers should expect to see savings on the fuel portion of their bills, starting in 2021.

The Wind Catcher project is the largest single-site wind project in the United States, according to the release. It’s being developed by Invenergy in Cimarron and Texas counties in the Oklahoma Panhandle. SWEPCO and PSO will buy the facility when it’s completed, which should be in the fourth quarter of 2020.

In May, Arkansas regulators approved the project. The project is awaiting approval in Texas and Oklahoma.