Renewable Energy
GE Renewable Energy

Nation's Largest Wind Farm Coming to Oklahoma

The Wind Catcher Energy Connection project, which includes a massive 800-turbine wind farm under construction in the Oklahoma panhandle, is getting closer to lift-off.

Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO), a subsidiary of major utility American Electric Power, announced this week a settlement with various parties, including Walmart, allowing the $4.5 billion project to move forward.

According to a press release:

"After a series of negotiation sessions with the [Arkansas Public Service Commission] General Staff, the Arkansas Attorney General and other parties, SWEPCO agreed to provide a number of guarantees, including a cap on construction costs, qualification for 100 percent of the federal Production Tax Credits, minimum annual production from the project, and others."

The project is subject to approval by utility commissions in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma, as well as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Once getting its legs, Wind Catcher is expected to deliver wind energy to customers in the four states by the end of 2020.

The Wind Catcher facility, developed by Invenergy, will be the largest single-site wind farm in the U.S. once complete. The 2,000-megawatt facility will generate power from 800 GE 2.5 megawatt turbines. The project also involves building a 360-mile extra high-voltage 765 kilovolt power line to connect two new substations, one located at the wind facility and a second near Tulsa, Oklahoma.

"Oklahoma's panhandle has some of the best wind in America but is hundreds of miles from larger cities and communities that can benefit from low-cost, clean energy," the developers tout. "Wind Catcher Energy Connection is a $4.5 billion infrastructure investment that will bring Oklahoma wind power to more than 1.1 million energy customers in the South Central U.S."

"We are extremely pleased with this settlement agreement because it recognizes the tremendous opportunity the Wind Catcher project provides for clean, low-cost energy and long-term savings for SWEPCO customers," said Venita McCellon-Allen, SWEPCO president and chief operating officer.

"Our customers are looking to us to provide clean, reliable and cost-effective power. Wind Catcher will help companies, universities, cities and other customers meet their sustainability and renewable energy goals," McCellon-Allen said.

SWEPCO says the project will save its customers about $4 billion, net of cost, over 25 years.

The company also promised:

"Cost savings include no fuel cost for wind, which lowers SWEPCO's overall fuel and purchased power costs; full value of the federal Production Tax Credit, which is available for construction of new wind farm projects; and the cost-efficient delivery of the wind generation to customers through the new, dedicated power line."

"Customers will see savings primarily through a reduction in the fuel portion of their bills, beginning in 2021."

"Walmart has a goal to be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy, and sourcing from wind energy projects—like the Wind Catcher project—is a core component in the mix," said Mark Vanderhelm, vice president of energy for Walmart. "The energy procured from this project represents an important leap forward on our renewable energy journey."

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