AEP: Wind Catcher Energy Connection canceled following Texas regulators’ decision to deny project

American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP) on July 27 said that it is canceling the Wind Catcher Energy Connection project as a result of the Public Utility Commission of Texas’ July 26 decision to deny approval of the project.

A commission spokesperson on July 31 told TransmissionHub: “The letter is still in the ‘routing for approval’ process. When it is signed by all three commissioners, we will make it available online.”

The Arkansas Public Service Commission, Louisiana Public Service Commission, and FERC had approved the project, AEP said, adding that a decision was pending at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

As TransmissionHub reported, the $4.5bn, 350-mile, 765-kV project was expected to be in service in 2020. AEP’s Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) in June said that the project included the acquisition of a 2,000-MW wind farm under construction in the Oklahoma Panhandle, as well as construction of the dedicated power line that would carry the wind energy to the Tulsa area, where the existing grid would deliver it to customers in Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas. SWEPCO noted that it would own 70% of the project, while its sister company, Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO), would own 30%. The wind farm is under development by Invenergy. SWEPCO also said at the time that it and PSO would purchase the facility at completion, which is scheduled for 4Q20.

An Invenergy spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment on July 31.

“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 Akins, AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in the July 27 statement. “To realize the full benefits of Wind Catcher for customers, timely approvals were required from all jurisdictions so we could complete the project by the end of 2020 and be eligible for 100 percent of the federal production tax credit. We want to thank our employees and our partners for all of their work on the development of the Wind Catcher project.”

Akins continued: “The strategic investments we are making in AEP’s regulated businesses will continue to support our 5 percent to 7 percent earnings growth rate. We are investing in a cleaner, smarter energy system for our customers and will continue to pursue opportunities to provide the new energy resources and technology solutions that bring value to our customers.”

AEP said that it plans to invest $24bn in 2018 through 2021 to rebuild and enhance aging infrastructure, add advanced technologies to the energy system, and create a more reliable and resilient grid to enhance service for customers.

An AEP spokesperson on July 31 told TransmissionHub that of that $24bn in planned investments, AEP plans to spend $11.6bn on transmission projects from 2018 through 2021.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3286 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares was TransmissionHub’s chief editor until August 2021, as well as part of the team that established TransmissionHub in 2011. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial from 2005 to 2011. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines.