Energy Procurement, Utilities, Distributed Generation, Regulation, Wind  -  July 27, 2017

AEP, GE, Invenergy partner on largest US wind farm

GE Renewable Energy and Invenergy are teaming up to build the largest wind farm in the country, which will then be purchased by utility giant American Electric Power, according to a July 26 news release.

The 2,000-MW Wind Catcher facility will consist of 800 GE 2.5-MW turbines in the Oklahoma panhandle. Instead of signing a power purchase agreement, American Electric Power has already committed to buy the project, which includes a 350-mile transmission line, outright for $4.5 billion once it is up and running in order to directly supply renewable energy to its customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

A recent report by Bloomberg characterized the purchase as reflective of the trend of utilities skipping the PPA altogether and going directly for ownership of renewable energy systems, both to save customers money sometimes lost in the power transaction and to guarantee their own profits.

As a next step, American Electric Power's local subsidiaries, Public Service Co. of Oklahoma and Southwestern Electric Power Co., will need to obtain approval from Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas and federal regulators to purchase the wind farm from Invenergy and build the 350-mile transmission line.

“The price of wind has come down enough that it’s going to be competitive with anything else you’re probably going to propose to build out there,” Kit Konolige, a New York-based utility analyst, told Bloomberg.

Invenergy estimates that the Wind Catcher farm will save customers more than $7 billion over 25 years and will support approximately 4,000 direct and 4,400 indirect jobs annually during construction and 80 permanent jobs once operational.

Construction of the Oklahoma system is scheduled to be completed in 2020.

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