SWEPCO receives Arkansas approval of $1 billion wind farm project

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 2,706 views 

Southwestern Electric Power Co., a company of Columbus, Ohio-based utility American Electric Power, has received regulatory approval in Arkansas for its plan to add 810 megawatts of wind energy.

SWEPCO announced Monday (May 11) the Arkansas Public Service Commission approved the request after making modifications to a settlement agreement, which was approved Jan. 24 by the commission’s staff, the office of Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Walmart Inc.

The commission on May 5 modified and approved provisions of the agreement. The modification specified that cost recovery for the $1.01 billion project will be through the company’s formula rates. All parties accepted the modification on May 8.

“We are excited for the opportunity to bring more clean, low-cost renewable energy to our Arkansas customers,” said Malcolm Smoak, SWEPCO president and chief operating officer. “The Arkansas Public Service Commission has demonstrated a strong commitment to renewable energy, and the parties in this proceeding recognize the many benefits of clean energy and long-term savings for the families, businesses and communities we serve.”

SWEPCO wants to purchase three wind facilities in north central Oklahoma, known as the North Central Energy Facilities, along with its sister company, Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO). SWEPCO would own 810 megawatts, or 54.5% of the 1,485-megawatt project with an investment of $1.01 billion. SWEPCO and PSO will acquire the projects when they are completed in 2020 and 2021.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved SWEPCO and PSO to acquire the facilities. SWEPCO is awaiting regulatory approval from Louisiana and Texas. If only two states were to approve the project, those states could increase the number of megawatts allocated to them.

The project is expected to save SWEPCO customers $2 billion over the 30-year expected life of the wind facilities.

“We know this project is important to many of our customers — like Walmart, the city of Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas and many other companies, communities and individuals — who are looking to SWEPCO to help them meet their own sustainability and renewable energy goals,” Smoak said. “This project taps into one of the best wind energy resources in the country to help meet our customers’ needs.”

PSO has received approval from Oklahoma Corporation Commission to add 675 megawatts of wind energy, or 45.5% of the 1,485-megawatt project.

SWEPCO serves more than 536,300 customers in three states, including 119,800 in Arkansas.