Wind Catcher, a wind farm project in Oklahoma, is officially dead, according to a press release from AEP/SWEPCO.
“American Electric Power (AEP), [the parent company of Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO)] is canceling the Wind Catcher project as a result of the Public Utility Commission of Texas’ July 26 decision to deny approval of the project,” the release said.
The project had been approved by the Arkansas Public Service Commission, Louisiana Public Service Commission and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. A decision was pending at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
“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,” said Nicholas K. Akins, AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer.
“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. We want to thank our employees and our partners for all of their work on the development of the Wind Catcher project.”
However, the project had met opposition from many entities, including the City of Minden.
In an interview with the Press-Herald earlier in June, costs involved in the project would have negatively affected Minden residents, a point which was brought out in the City’s lawsuit against SWEPCO at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commisssion (FERC.)
According to Minden Mayor Tommy Davis, there will be costs passed through to Minden utility customers as a result of the current Power Service Agreement. That agreement is currently the subject of a lawsuit with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC.)
“We have a pass-through contract,” Davis said. “So that means they get to pass through those costs to us. And that’s part of our FERC filing.”
Despite AEP’s decision to abandon Wind Catcher, Akins said the company is moving forward with other plans.
“The strategic investments we are making in AEP’s regulated businesses will continue to support our 5 percent to 7 percent earnings growth rate. We are investing in a cleaner, smarter energy system for our customers and will continue to pursue opportunities to provide the new energy resources and technology solutions that bring value to our customers.”
AEP plans to invest $24 billion in 2018 through 2021 to rebuild and enhance aging infrastructure, add advanced technologies to the energy system and create a more reliable and resilient grid to enhance service for customers.