SWEPCO to forge ahead on $1 billion wind project after Texas denial

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 510 views 

Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO), a utility of Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power, announced Thursday (July 2) it plans to move forward on a nearly $1 billion wind farm project after Texas denied approval of it.

The Public Utility Commission of Texas denied approval of SWEPCO’s plans to add 810 megawatts of wind energy, but the utility said it will proceed with the “full project” to serve its customers in Arkansas and Louisiana. In May, regulatory bodies of both states approved the project that can be adapted to increase the allocation of wind generating capacity to those that approve the project in the event another state were to deny it.

“It is disappointing that our customers in East Texas and the Panhandle will not have access to this major wind project, missing the opportunity for long-term cost savings and making it more difficult for business, residents and communities to meet their renewable energy goals,” said Malcolm Smoak, SWEPCO president and chief operating officer. “However, today’s decision by the PUCT does not affect the project’s full viability. We appreciate the approvals we received from the Arkansas Public Service Commission and the Louisiana Public Service Commission, and we look forward to bringing this low-cost renewable energy to our customers in Arkansas and Louisiana.

“We are grateful for the support this project received from our customers and communities in Texas and look forward to continuing to pursue renewable energy projects to serve them,” he added. “It is our sincere hope that we will have another opportunity to bring our Texas customers more clean energy and cost savings.”

The wind project includes the acquisition of three wind facilities in north central Oklahoma — known as the North Central Energy Facilities. SWEPCO will purchase the facilities along with sister company, Public Service Company of Oklahoma. SWEPCO will own 810 megawatts, or 54.5%, of the 1,485-megawatt project with an investment of $1.01 billion. The utilities will acquire the facilities as they are completed over the next two years.

SWEPCO’s Arkansas and Louisiana customers are expected to save nearly $2 billion over the 30-year life of the wind farms. Shreveport, La.-based SWEPCO serves 536,300 customers in three states, including more than 119,800 customers in Arkansas.