Talks between interested parties and Public Service Co. of Oklahoma over its proposed 2,000-megawatt Wind Catcher Energy Connection project have generated additional support as it continues to seek regulatory preapproval to collect $1.36 billion in costs for the plan.
On Wednesday, the utility – a subsidiary of American Electric Power – announced that four additional parties had signed a proposed revised settlement agreement it submitted to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission in April.
Additional supporters of the revised agreement now include the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority, Tri-County Electric Cooperative, South Central MCN, a subsidiary of GridLiance, and Oneta Power.
PSO officials said they were able to secure their support for the proposed revised settlement by:
• Negotiating a power purchase agreement with Oneta for 300 megawatts of low-cost natural gas energy annually, beginning in 2022.
• Guaranteeing that PSO won’t provide retail electric service in Tri-County’s service territory for 25 years after Wind Catcher begins commercial operations.
• Providing GridLiance the option to build, own and operate any future Panhandle interconnect facilities that PSO would otherwise build, own and operate under the Southwest Power Pool’s Open Access Transmission Tariff.
Utility officials said Wednesday those offers are made in addition to others included in the revised agreement that’s supported by the Oklahoma Industrial Energy Consumers group, Walmart Stores East and Sam’s East, Inc.
“We were able to provide assurances and alliances to them that they wouldn’t be negatively impacted or disadvantaged by Wind Catcher. That is what this is all about, really,” Stan Whiteford, a PSO spokesman, said on Wednesday.
PSO’s proposal pending before the Oklahoma Corporation Commission proposes to cap project costs for ratepayers at 103 percent, guarantees that the project would qualify for 100 percent of federal renewable energy production tax credits that were available when construction started in 2016, boosts its guaranteed average net power generation and makes an offer for PSO to review its benefit for ratepayers after 10 years.
The Oklahoma Attorney General and the commission’s Public Utility Division continue to oppose PSO’s proposal.
But they have suggested that an approval by the commission of the utility’s plan should require a tighter cost cap, more of a guaranteed boost in the project’s annual net energy production and be reviewed annually to make sure it benefits ratepayers.
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If built, Wind Catcher Connection would consist of a wind farm being developed by Invenergy that would have 800 wind towers powered by 2.5-megawatt wind turbines built by GE Renewable Energy. The farm’s footprint would cover parts of two Oklahoma Panhandle counties.
The project also includes a planned 360-mile-long line from the Panhandle to Tulsa’s west side that would carry 600 megawatts of power from the farm to PSO’s grid. The total estimated cost for the entire project is $4.5 billion.
PSO would own 30 percent of the project, while its sister American Electric Power utility, Southwestern Electric Power Co., would own the remainder. PSO and Southwestern are seeking preapproval of their costs to participate in the project before various state regulatory bodies.
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