American Electric Power (AEP) has scrapped the proposed 2GW Wind Catcher Energy Connection following denial of approval for the project by the Public Utility Commission of Texas.


Image: Drone image aerial view of the Wind Catcher Energy Connection project site. Photo: courtesy of Invenergy.

The Wind Catcher project was proposed to be a $4.5bn wind farm that would also comprise a dedicated 563km long power transmission line. According to AEP, the project was designed to supply low cost, clean, reliable energy to its customers across Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma.

Public Utility Commission of Texas has turned down the approval saying the project doesn’t provide enough benefits for Texan ratepayers as per its proposed structure.

As per the original plan of the Wind Catcher Energy Connection project, an under construction 2GW wind farm in the Oklahoma Panhandle was to be acquired by AEP followed by construction of a 563km power transmission line.

The transmission line was intended to transmit the power produced from the wind farm to the Tulsa area.

While AEP’s Southwestern Electric Power (SWEPCO) was to acquire 70% stake in the Wind Catcher project, the remaining 30% was to be owned by its sister company – Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO).

AEP chairman, president and CEO Nicholas K. Akins said: “We are disappointed that we will not be able to move forward with Wind Catcher, which was a great opportunity to provide more clean energy, lower electricity costs and a more diverse energy resource mix for our customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

“To realize the full benefits of Wind Catcher for customers, timely approvals were required from all jurisdictions so we could complete the project by the end of 2020 and be eligible for 100 percent of the federal production tax credit.”

Construction on the project started 2016 with operations scheduled in 2020.

Wind Catcher Energy Connection has already secured approvals from the Arkansas Public Service Commission, Louisiana Public Service Commission and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission but awaiting approval from Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

AEP had previously planned to invest $24bn from 2018 to 2021 to rebuild and improve aging infrastructure, introduce advanced technologies to the energy system and create a more reliable and resilient grid for improved customer service.