AEP to Spend $4.5 Billion on the Largest Wind Farm in the U.S.
By Chris Martin and Jim Polson July 26, 2017
- Project to include a new 350-mile, high-voltage power line
- Would become the largest single-site wind farm in the U.S.
U.S. utility giant American Electric Power Co. is looking to invest $4.5 billion in a massive wind farm spread across Oklahoma’s panhandle and a new transmission line that will carry the power to customers.
AEP will seek the necessary approvals from Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas to buy the 2,000-megawatt Wind Catcher farm from developer Invenergy LLC, the Columbus, Ohio-based utility owner said in a statement Wednesday. The company is expected to file plans with state regulators on July 31.
The deal marks AEP’s largest renewable energy project ever and underscores a dramatic shift in America’s power resources. Once the largest consumer of coal in the U.S., AEP is now shuttering money-losing coal plants and diversifying its power mix along with the rest of the utility sector as renewable energy becomes cheaper and coal units more costly to maintain. Wind Catcher is set to become the largest wind farm in the nation and the second-biggest in the world, according to Invenergy.
AEP said it’ll need a 350-mile (563-kilometer), high-voltage transmission line to deliver the wind farm’s power to customers of its Southwestern Electric Power Co. and Public Service Co. of Oklahoma utilities. The company said it expects the low cost of the wind power will save their customers $7 billion over 25 years.
Southwestern Electric will own 70 percent of the project and power supplies, and Public Service of Oklahoma will get the rest.
Construction on the wind farm began in 2016, and the plant is scheduled to go into service in mid-2020, Invenergy said in an email. The company is contracted to run the farm, which is using General Electric Co. turbines, for the first five years.
AEP’s announcement comes less than a month after Oklahoma ended a tax credit for wind production, more than three years ahead of schedule. Governor Mary Fallin had said the industry no longer needed incentives.
With assistance by Mark Chediak