AEP’s cost plan for Wind Catcher buy slammed by Oklahoma judge

GE wind farm in Europe. Image courtesy: GE. All rights reserved.

February 14 (Renewables Now) - An Oklahoma judge has made a recommendation against the preapproval of US utility American Electric Power Company Inc’s (NYSE:AEP) plan to buy the 2-GW Wind Catcher wind project in the state and share the cost with its ratepayers.

The Public Service Company (PSO) of Oklahoma, a unit of American Electric Power, is seeking regulatory approval to buy the huge project, along with the power line that will deliver electricity through its network. Its request for preapproval includes the future inclusion in base rates cost recovery of costs that PSO will incur from acquirng the two schemes.

In a report to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, published on Monday, administrative law judge Mary Candler said that PSO has failed to prove that customers should be charged for the USD-4.5-billion (EUR 3.6bn) project and also could not prove the need for additional power generation. Moreover, the cost recovery preapproval had to be requested before the start of construction, which is already in progress, and the utility failed to take competitive bids for the project due to the lack of time, which the judge regarded as an insufficient excuse for not carrying out the process.

Judge Candler‘s recommendation is not binding but will be considered by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which will make a final decision.

The Wind Catcher Energy Connection project includes a huge wind park with a 360-mile (579-km) single circuit 765-kV power line and two substations. The 800-turbine wind farm will be constructed in Cimarron and Texas counties in the western panhandle of Oklahoma and will supply power to Oklahoma, parts of Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. Construction of the wind farm is expected to be completed by end-2020. Development of the power line began in the summer of 2017.

American Electric has requested advance regulatory approval in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas for its plan to buy the huge wind project from developer Invenergy Renewables LLC as the scheme could fail to qualify for full federal wind production tax credits.

PSO officials have told NewsOK that the company intends later this month to issue a response to the judge’s recommendation and hope for a hearing before commissioners in March.

(USD 1.0 = EUR 0.808)

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Veselina Petrova is one of SeeNews Renewables most experienced green energy writers. For several years she has been keeping track of game-changing events both large and small projects and across the globe.

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