Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) has given its approval for American Electric Power’s (AEP) 2GW Wind Catcher Energy Connection project.


Image: SWEPCO secures regulatory approval in Louisiana. Photo: Courtesy of Ali Farid/FreeImages.com

Wind Catcher Energy Connection is a $4.5bn wind farm project with a dedicated power line that will bring low cost, clean, reliable energy to AEP customers across Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma.

The project includes the acquisition of a 2GW wind farm under construction in the Oklahoma Panhandle and construction of a 563km power line that will transmit the electricity generated from the wind farm to the Tulsa area.

Southwestern Electric Power (SWEPCO) will own 70% of the project, while its sister company, Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO), will own the remaining 30%.

LPSC has given its approval based on certain key elements under the settlement agreement, where SWEPCO guarantees to include a cap on construction costs, qualification for 100% of the federal Production Tax Credits and minimum annual production from the project.

The company estimates that the project will save its customers more than $4bn over the 25 year life of the project, compared to the project cost of buying power in the open market.

AEP chairman, president and CEO Nicholas K. Akins said: “Wind Catcher is a major investment in clean energy that will produce long-term savings for Louisiana customers and further diversify our energy resource mix.

“After an extensive review, including the significant performance guarantees that were developed during the process, the Louisiana Public Service Commission’s decision recognizes the benefits Wind Catcher will bring to Louisiana customers.”

SWEPCO stated that customers can see the benefits through reduction in the fuel portion of their bills, starting in 2021.

Manufacturing of key components of the project’s 800 wind turbines to be supplied by GE Renewable Energy will also be in Louisiana.

SWEPCO president and CEO Malcolm Smoak said: “By tapping into this exceptional wind resource, we are further diversifying our energy resource mix and delivering long-term savings to the Louisiana customers and communities we serve.

“Lower costs will benefit families, businesses and communities and make Louisiana more attractive for economic development.”

Considered to be the largest single-site wind project in the US, the wind farm is being developed by Invenergy in Cimarron and Texas counties in the Oklahoma Panhandle. SWEPCO and PSO are expected to buy the facility after it is completed in the fourth quarter of 2020.