SWEPCO announces agreement on wind energy project | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

SWEPCO announces agreement on wind energy project

Posted By on Tue, Feb 20, 2018 at 3:49 PM

click to enlarge MAKING WIND: At farm in Oklahoma. - SWEPCO
  • SWEPCO
  • MAKING WIND: At farm in Oklahoma.

Southwestern Electric Power, which serves customers in Arkansas, has announced an agreement with Arkansas parties for the Wind Catcher Energy Connection to deliver power generated by wind on Oklahoma wind farms to customers in Arkansas.

The parties in the deal include the Arkansas Public Service Commission staff, the Arkansas attorney general, and Walmart Stores and Sam’s West. They ask the PSC to approve a $4.5 billion project to acquire a 2,000-megawatt wind farm under construction and build a 360-mile generation line (a typo originally put the length at 3,670) to the Tulsa area for connection to the existing energy grid. SWEPCo will own 70 percent of the project and Arkansas customers will shoulder $607 million of the cost.

SWEPCO has agreed to provide a cap on costs and other stipulations.  From a news release:

“We are extremely pleased with this settlement agreement because it recognizes the tremendous opportunity the Wind Catcher project provides for clean, low-cost energy and long-term savings for SWEPCO customers,” said Venita McCellon-Allen, SWEPCO president and chief operating officer. “Our customers are looking to us to provide clean, reliable and cost-effective power. Wind Catcher will help companies, universities, cities and other customers meet their sustainability and renewable energy goals,” McCellon-Allen said.

"Walmart has a goal to be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy, and sourcing from wind energy projects — like the Wind Catcher project — is a core component in the mix," said Mark Vanderhelm, vice president of energy for Walmart. "The energy procured from this project represents an important leap forward on our renewable energy journey.”
SWEPCO says the project will save money on fuel — $4 billion over 25 years — and reduce purchased power costs while also qualifying for federal tax credits.  The project also will require manufacturing jobs for equipment made in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.

When completed, SWEPCO will increase the amount of renewable energy it produces from 8 to 26 percent. It is a unit of American Electric Power, once the utility most reliant on coal. That's changing, Mr. Trump, "beautiful" as coal is.

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