SWEPCO, other Arkansas parties reach agreement on 810-megawatt wind project

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,380 views 

Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO), a company of Columbus, Ohio-based utility American Electric Power (AEP), announced Friday (Jan. 24) an agreement with the Arkansas Public Service Commission general staff, the office of Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Walmart Inc. regarding SWEPCO’s proposal to add 810 megawatts of wind energy.

The unanimous settlement agreement, which was filed Friday, is expected to come before the Arkansas Public Service Commission on March 10 and regards SWEPCO’s proposed purchase of three wind generation facilities in north-central Oklahoma.

“We’re pleased that the parties in this proceeding have carefully reviewed the proposal and reached an agreement that will provide more clean, low-cost energy to Arkansas customers,” said Malcolm Smoak, president and chief operating officer for SWEPCO. “This project supports our long-term strategy of renewable energy providing more than one-third of the resource mix serving our customers. In addition to the environmental benefits of wind energy, SWEPCO customers will save an estimated $2 billion over the 30-year expected life of the new facilities.”

SWEPCO and sister company, Public Service of Oklahoma, look to purchase three wind facilities in north-central Oklahoma and are known as the North Central Energy Facilities. SWEPCO will own 54.5% of the 1,485-megawatt project and invest $1.01 billion into it.

SWEPCO is seeking approval for the project from utility regulators in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. It is also subject to review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. If a state were to deny the proposal, it could be adjusted to provide more megawatts of wind energy to the states that approve it.

In July 2019, SWEPCO announced it will add 810 megawatts of wind energy by 2022 as part of the company’s long-term plan to increase the use of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar. As a result of the project, wind energy will comprise 21% of SWEPCO’s energy source mix. Over the next 20 years, the mix for coal is expected to decline to 44%, from 83%, while SWEPCO increases its energy source mix of renewables and natural gas sources. By the end of 2026, it plans to close the 650-megawatt coal-fired Dolet Hills power plant near Mansfield, La., as part of a settlement agreement approved by the Arkansas Public Service Commission in December.

SWEPCO, which is based in Shreveport, La., serves more than 536,000 customers in three states, including 119,800 in Arkansas.

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