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SWEPCO settles legal issue with wind power contracts

SWEPCO announced Wednesday that it will purchase additional wind power to supplement its energy portfolio and meet a renewable energy commitment, settling a legal issue surrounding the coal-fired John W. Turk Jr. Power Plant.

On Dec. 22, SWEPCO announced it had settled a lawsuit brought against the company by the Sierra Club, the National Audubon Society and Audubon Arkansas related to Turk Plant construction in southwest Arkansas.

Those groups objected to the Turk Plant – a modern, coal-fired power plant – on environmental grounds that included air and wastewater concerns, SWEPCO spokesman Peter Main said.

The federal lawsuit was settled, in part, when SWEPCO promised to purchase 400 megawatts of wind power by the end of 2014.

The series of 20-year agreements amount to 358.65 megawatts of wind power from Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas for SWEPCO. Another agreement signed by Oklahoma Municipal Power, which owns 7 percent of the Turk Plant, complements that wattage, exceeding the 400-megawatt commitment of the settlement, Main said.

Three contracts – including 201.25 megawatts from Canadian Hills Wind in Canadian County west of Oklahoma City, 79.6 megawatts from High Majestic Wind II in the Texas Panhandle and 77.8 megawatts from Flat Ridge 2 Wind Energy in Kansas – comprise SWEPCO’s new portfolio.

Separately, OMPA signed a 25-year agreement for 49.2 megawatts from the Canadian Hills Wind project, Main said.

All three wind farms are expected to come online by the end of 2012, Main said.

Before the latest agreements, SWEPCO’s wind capacity totaled 110.5 megawatts.

In December, SWEPCO announced a 20-year contract with Flat Ridge 2 for 31 megawatts as part of the Louisiana Public Service Commission’s Renewable Energy Pilot, which mandated Louisiana energy companies explore alternative energy sources.

In January 2009, SWEPCO forged a 20-year contract with Majestic Wind Power, near Amarillo, Texas, for 79.5 megawatts.