On Wednesday, May 16, the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) voted to postpone a vote that would allow SWEPCO to acquire Wind Catcher, a 2,000 MW wind farm in Oklahoma, planned as the country’s largest wind farm.
According to project supporters, this could mean trouble for the deal.
The settlement agreement reached among the stakeholders in this proceeding, Wal-Mart, Sam’s West, SWECPO, and LPSC staff, details specific benefits that says SWEPCO customers guaranteed a net savings of $1.3 billion, 45 percent capacity value for the expected 2,000 MW generation, and a cap on cost-recovery at 103 percent.
These safeguards are aimed at keeping SWEPCO on the hook, not rate-payers, should Wind Catcher underproduce energy or if construction expenditures exceed 103 percent of the projected cost. Additionally, GE has informally agreed to produce components for 400 of the wind turbines needed for Wind Catcher in Louisiana, creating jobs in the state.
“Low-cost wind power, wherever it is generated, is a benefit for Louisiana ratepayers that will keep our businesses competitive. Renewable energy attracts multinational businesses to the state, and means reliable bills that don’t fluctuate with an unpredictable traditional energy market. We’re disappointed to see the result of this week’s vote, but trust that the commission majority will move this project forward promptly, in the interest of our economy,“ said Jeff Cantin with Gulf States Renewable Energy.
Commissioners Foster Campbell and Lambert Boissiere both expressed their support for the landmark project, describing the opportunities it would bring to the state. Campbell, whose district’s ratepayers would receive the greatest benefit, also described frustration with recent attack ads coming from unidentified opponents of the project.