September 28 (Renewables Now) - US utility American Electric Power Company Inc (NYSE:AEP) said Thursday its unit in Ohio is seeking the green light from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) for 400 MW of new solar capacity.
Through a request for proposals (RfP), AEP Ohio has awarded power purchase agreements (PPAs) to Hecate Energy Highland LLC’s 300-MW Highland Solar project and a 100-MW scheme by Willowbrook Solar LLC. Both will be built in the Appalachian region in Highland County and both are expected to be operational by the end of 2021, pending regulatory approvals.
The solar parks are estimated to save customers USD 200 million (EUR 171m) over the life of the fixed-price renewable energy purchase agreements, when taking into account the projected cost of power in the future.
AEP Ohio yesterday filed with the PUCO its proposal to support the development of these photovoltaic (PV) projects, one of which would be the state’s largest once built. The commission is to evaluate the proposal and issue a decision before construction of the power plants can begin.
A survey of AEP Ohio customers recently revealed that there is overwhelming support for the use of more renewables in the state. Nearly 75% of residential customers have said they were ready to support renewable energy through increased bills, AEP Ohio said.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Ohio has just 182 MW of solar capacity, but annual capacity additions are expected to jump to some 170 MW in 2020 and keep rising in the years that follow.
AEP Ohio in November 2016 pledged to support 500 MW of wind and 400 MW of solar capacity in Ohio so as to please opponents of an eight-year off-take contract tied to coal-fired power plants.