Monday, July 30, 2018

Proposal for what would be largest U.S. wind farm, already under construction, is dealt a potentially fatal blow

The Texas Public Utility Commission last week unanimously rejected a proposal for American Electric Power Co. to supply its customers with energy from what would be the nation's largest wind farm, saying it doesn't offer enough benefits for utility customers as currently structured, Jim Efstathiou Jr. and Chris Martin report for Bloomberg News.

The Wind Catcher facility is already under construction in the Oklahoma panhandle and is scheduled to be completed in late 2020. AEP invested $4.5 billion transmission lines from Wind Catcher to customers in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. The company, which plans to eventually buy the wind farm outright, planned to pay for the lines with a strategy often used by coal, nuclear, and natural gas power plants: by passing on costs and some profit onto customers' bills.

But the Texas commission argued that the project might not be as profitable as AEP is projecting. DeAnn Walker, chairman of the Texas commission, said last week at the hearing that "The costs are known, but the benefits are based on a lot of assumptions that are questionable."

Meanwhile, "Oklahoma’s attorney general and a state administrative law judge concluded in February the company failed to prove there was an economic need for the project and that it left customers shouldering too much of the risk," Efstathiou and Martin report.

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