PSC Commish: OKlahoma wind power project good for swepco customers

Completion of the three-part Oklahoma wind-power project for SWEPCO and its sister company, Public Service Company of Oklahoma, represents good news for Louisiana electric customers, said Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell.

“The wind blows steadily and it blows for free in north-central Oklahoma,” Campbell said.  “Capturing that wind to make electricity means long-term, reliable and low-cost energy for SWEPCO’s 200,000 Louisiana customers.”

A supporter of wind and solar power for Louisiana utilities, Campbell backed SWEPCO’s plan to purchase the vast North Central Energy Facilities wind farms, now completed.  Combined, the three farms will generate 1,484 megawatts of clean energy for SWEPCO and PSO, which are subsidiaries of Ohio-based American Electric Power.

“That is enough power to run 440,000 homes,” Campbell said.  Estimated savings over conventional fuels for SWEPCO’s Louisiana customers is $1 billion over the next 30 years.

Campbell said the electric utilities will extend the benefits of the wind power by selling renewable-energy credits to large customers like Wal-Mart and Amazon.  He said proceeds from the credit sales will reduce fuel costs for other SWEPCO and PSO customers.

“Wind and solar power are the future,” Campbell said.  “They are clean, low-cost and readily available.  SWEPCO is showing leadership in this area for other Louisiana utilities.”

A proposal to expand the size of wind energy projects off the Louisiana coast advanced in the Legislature in late March. 

Proponents say it will make the state more attractive to developers and investors in the renewable energies market. 

House Bill 165, sponsored by Rep. Jerome Zeringue, R-Houma, was approved in the House Committee on Natural Resources and Environment. 

“We know that alternative energy is coming, and it’s something that we can and should take advantage of,” Zeringue said, adding that studies show a single offshore wind project could generate more than 5,000 jobs. 

The bill would increase current limits on individual oil and gas leases from a maximum of 5,000 acres to 25,000 acres for a wind energy lease. Zeringue said wind turbines typically require more space than oil and gas rigs. The industry standard, he said, is between 500 and 1,000 acres per turbine.

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