Plan for $4.5B wind farm scrapped after regulator’s denial
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – A utility said Friday it is dropping plans for what would have been the largest wind farm in the country, a day after regulators in Texas rejected the $4.5 billion project.
American Electric Power said it was cancelling plans for the 2,000-megawatt Wind Catcher wind farm, which would have spanned two counties in the Oklahoma panhandle and provided power to customers in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. The move came a day after the Public Utility Commission of Texas denied approval of the project, which had already won approval from regulators in Arkansas and Louisiana. A decision was pending before an Oklahoma regulatory panel.
“We are disappointed that we will not be able to move forward with Wind Catcher, which was a great opportunity to provide more clean energy, lower electricity costs and a more diverse energy resource mix for our customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas,” Nicholas K. Akins, AEP‘ chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. Akins said the project needed approval from all four states in order for it to be completed by the end of 2020 and be 100 percent eligible for a federal tax credit.
The project, when completed, would have provided power to customers in the four states of two of AEP’s subsidiaries: the Public Service Company of Oklahoma and Southwestern Electric Power Company. The project included the construction of 800 wind turbines and also called for the construction of a 360-mile (580-kilometer) transmission line from the wind farm to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the company said the existing electric grid would deliver power from the farm to customers.
A spokesman said preliminary work had begun at the wind farm site but no work had started on the power line.
Texas commissioners had said the benefits of the project weren’t enough for the state’s ratepayers and were based on questionable assumptions. The plan to construct the power line had also faced opposition from some Oklahoma land owners, and the state’s Republican attorney general had also raised concerns about the project.
“Our position was never critical of the company or the benefits of wind or other forms of renewable energy,” Attorney General Mike Hunter said in a statement. “It was about protecting the ratepayers and ensuring they did not shoulder the risks of this $4.5 billion project.”