AEP going forward with 1.4 GW in wind projects despite TPUC rejection

Subsidiaries of American Electric Power will push ahead with investing in $2 billion of investment in utility-scale wind power despite rejection by Texas regulators.

AEP unit Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) planned to add 309 MW of wind capacity to serve Texas customers. The state’s Public Utility Commission, however, denied the SWEPCO plan.

Louisiana and Oklahoma regulators previously had given their approval of the overall 1,485-MW wind investment plan. Another AEP subsidiary, Public Service Co. of Oklahoma (PSO), will acquire 675 MW of the North Central wind projects to serve its customers, while another 464 MW and 268 MW are allocated to Louisiana and Arkansas, respectively.

The Arkansas and Louisiana Public Service Commissions approved the projects in May, and PSO received approval from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission in February. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission also approved the acquisitions in February.

SWEPCO’s wind project includes the acquisition of three wind facilities in north central Oklahoma — known as the North Central Energy Facilities — in conjunction with its sister company, Public Service Co. of Oklahoma (PSO). Pending regulatory approvals, SWEPCO will own 810 MW, or 54.5 percent of the 1,485-MW project.

“We are disappointed that our SWEPCO customers in Texas will not be able to benefit from the low-cost wind energy the North Central projects will provide,” AEP CEO Nicholas Akins said in a statement. “The regulatory approvals we have received in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will allow us to move ahead with the North Central wind projects at full scale, saving our customers in those states approximately $3 billion over the next 30 years. As we transition to a clean energy future, our investment in the North Central wind projects supports economic and business development in our communities and will help our customers meet their renewable energy goals.”

PSO’s proposed North Central Energy Facilities plan includes the company’s partial ownership in three Oklahoma wind generation facilities located in seven counties in north central Oklahoma — Alfalfa, Blaine, Custer, Garfield, Kingfisher, Major and Woods. The projects include a 999-MW wind facility being built north of Weatherford, a 287-MW wind facility being built southwest of Enid, and a 199-MW facility being built south of Alva.

They are being developed by Invenergy. The 199-MW project is projected to be completed by the end of 2020. The other projects will be completed by the end of 2021.

The three wind projects would provide more than 5.7 million MWh of new wind energy annually to serve customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. 

Texas is tops for wind capacity in the U.S. Oklahoma ranks in the top four.

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