Full steam ahead for AEP’s $2B wind energy plan, despite Texas PUC denial

Even though the Public Utility Commission of Texas last week denied approval of Southwestern Electric Power Co.’s (SWEPCO) plan to add 309 megawatts (MW) of wind energy to serve Texas customers, American Electric Power (AEP) has received enough other regulatory approvals to acquire the entire planned 1,485 MW of North Central wind generation.

AEP is investing approximately $2 billion to bring new renewable energy to Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO) customers and SWEPCO customers in Arkansas and Louisiana.

North Central includes three wind generation facilities located in north central Oklahoma. AEP’s SWEPCO and PSO operating units announced July 15, 2019, that they would seek regulatory approvals to purchase the three wind projects. The projects are expected to be completed over the course of the next two years.

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.

PSO will acquire 675 MW of the North Central wind projects to serve its customers in Oklahoma. The Arkansas and Louisiana commissions approved options to increase their allocations of wind energy if another state did not approve the projects. With these options, an estimated 464 MW will be allocated to Louisiana and 268 MW to Arkansas, while wholesale customers will benefit from 78 MW for a total of 810 MW that will serve SWEPCO’s customers.

Related coverage:

SWEPCO wind project receives regulatory approval in Arkansas

AEP units looking to invest $2B in 1,500 MW of Oklahoma wind projects

 “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,” said Nicholas K. Akins, AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer.

“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,” Akins added.

AEP’s regulated integrated resource plans call for the addition of more than 8,000 MW of wind and solar, including North Central, and 1,600 MW of natural gas between 2020 and 2030.

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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com

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