This week, the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) voted, against their staff’s recommendation, to postpone a crucial vote that would allow SWEPCO to acquire Wind Catcher, a 2,000-MW wind farm in Oklahoma, planned as the country’s largest wind farm. According to project supporters, this could mean trouble for the deal.
“When the majority of customers served by this project are Louisianans,” said Jessica Hendricks from the Alliance for Affordable Energy. “Louisiana needs to take a stand for their rate-payers. Waiting to see how the vote plays out in surrounding states, like Oklahoma and Texas, is not acting in our rate-payers’ best interest.”
The settlement agreement reached among the stakeholders in this proceeding, WalMart, Sam’s West, SWECPO, and LPSC staff, details very specific, unprecedented benefits that are guaranteed to SWEPCO customers including a net savings of $1.3 Billion, guaranteed 45% capacity value for the expected 2,000-MW generation, and a cap on cost-recovery at 103%.
These safeguards would keep SWEPCO on the hook, not ratepayers, should Wind Catcher underproduce energy due to inconsistent wind, or if construction expenditures exceed 103% of the projected cost. Additionally, GE has informally agreed to produce components for 400 of the wind turbines needed for Wind Catcher in Louisiana, creating much needed jobs in the state.
“Low-cost wind power, wherever it is generated, is a benefit for Louisiana ratepayers that will keep our businesses competitive. Renewable energy attracts multinational businesses to the state, and means reliable bills that don’t fluctuate with an unpredictable traditional energy market. We’re disappointed to see the result of this week’s vote, but trust that the commission majority will move this project forward promptly, in the interest of our economy,“ added Hendricks.
Jeff Cantin, Gulf States Renewable Energy. Commissioners Foster Campbell, and Lambert Boissiere also expressed their support for the landmark project, describing the opportunities it would bring to the state. Campbell, whose district’s ratepayers would receive the greatest benefit, also described frustration with recent attack ads coming from unidentified opponents of the project.
Filed Under: News, Policy, Projects