Utilities, Sourcing Renewables, Wind - July 27, 2018
Wind Catcher canceled
American Electric Power (AEP) announced on July 27 that it is canceling the $4.5 billion, 2000-megawatt Wind Catcher project, which would have created the largest wind farm in the U.S.
A statement from AEP said the cancellation is a result of the July 26 decision by the Public Utility Commission of Texas to deny approval of the project, which had already been approved by the Arkansas Public Service Commission, Louisiana Public Service Commission and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. A decision from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission was pending.
"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.”
A report from NewsOn6.com said Texas commissioners questioned the benefit of the project to customers and unanimously voted against it. "We know what the costs are, likely - although those are projected. But the benefits are based on a lot of assumptions that are questionable," said DeAnn T. Walker, Public Utility Commission of Texas chairwoman.
Smart Energy Decisions reported on February 21 that Southwest Electric Power (SWEPCO), a unit of AEP, announced a settlement agreement in their request for approval of the proposed Wind Catcher project. The agreement included SWEPCO, Walmart Stores Inc. and Sam’s West, Inc., the Arkansas Public Service Commission General Staff, and the Arkansas attorney general.
The project was first reported by Smart Energy Decisions in July 2017, when GE Renewable Energy and Invenergy announced they were teaming up to build the facility, consisting of 800 GE 2.5-megawatt turbines, in the Oklahoma panhandle. AEP had committed to purchasing the project, which was to include a 350-mile transmission line to directly supply renewable energy to its customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.