Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Louisiana Public Service Commission approves SWEPCO wind project

by BIZ Magazine

Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO), an American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) company, has received Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) approval of its request to add 810 megawatts (MW) of wind energy.

The LPSC today approved the terms of a settlement agreement reached in March 2020 by all parties in the proceeding, including the LPSC Staff, the Alliance for Affordable Energy, Walmart, Inc. and SWEPCO.

“This is an exciting opportunity to bring more low-cost renewable energy to our Louisiana customers,” said Malcolm Smoak, SWEPCO president and chief operating officer. “We appreciate the careful review by the Louisiana Public Service Commission for this plan to bring the benefits of resource diversity and long-term savings to the families, businesses and communities we serve. Clean and affordable energy helps customers meet their own renewable energy and sustainability goals, and makes our community more competitive for economic development.”

As part of the settlement agreement, SWEPCO also plans to issue a request for proposals for up to 200 MW of solar generation resources to be located in the company’s service territory with construction beginning in the next three years, pursuant to regulatory requirements and review. Significant increases in wind and solar energy are part of SWEPCO’s long-range Integrated Resource Plan. 

North Louisiana LPSC Commissioner Foster Campbell made the motion in favor of the SWEPCO wind and solar plan, and it was unanimously approved by the LPSC. 

“This is the largest renewable-energy project ever put forward by a Louisiana utility,” Campbell said. “I’m proud that the Louisiana Commission is making this move. And I’m happy that it has a Northwest Louisiana solar component to go along with the wind power.” 

“Wind and solar should no longer be called ‘alternatives’ – they are now the first choice for many power companies. That’s because they are clean and often cheaper,” Campbell said. “We owe it to the 231,000-plus SWEPCO customers in Louisiana to make these investments.” 

SWEPCO’s wind project includes the acquisition of three wind facilities in north central Oklahoma – known as the North Central Energy Facilities – in conjunction with its sister company, Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO). Pending regulatory approvals, SWEPCO will own 810 MW, or 54.5% of the 1,485-MW project. SWEPCO and PSO will acquire the projects at their completion in 2020 and 2021.  

In addition to the environmental benefits of wind energy, SWEPCO customers will save an estimated $2 billion over the 30-year expected life of the new facilities.

SWEPCO’s 810-MW proposal is scalable to align with regulatory approvals by state, subject to commercial limitations. Two states that approve the project would have the ability to increase the number of megawatts allocated to them if one state does not approve the proposal. 

The LPSC approved an option that could increase Louisiana’s allocation to an estimated 464 MW from the original 268 MW. The Arkansas Public Service Commission also accepted an option to increase its allocation when it approved the project earlier this month. The project remains under regulatory review in Texas.

PSO received final Oklahoma Corporation Commission approval Feb. 20, 2020, of a settlement agreement in its plan to add 675 megawatts of wind energy.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved the acquisition of the wind facilities by SWEPCO and PSO.

SWEPCO serves more than 536,300 customers in three states, including 231,000 in northwest and central Louisiana, 185,500 in Texas and 119,800 in Arkansas.

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