PSO in deal with Walmart to further Wind Catcher project

Oklahoma wind farm. Author: U.S. Department of Agriculture. License: Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0 Generic

March 12 (Renewables Now) - Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO), a subsidiary of American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP), on Friday announced a settlement agreement with Walmart Inc (NYSE:WMT) on the Wind Catcher project.

The USD-4.5-billion (EUR 3.7bn) project, a partnership between PSO and sister company SWEPCO, includes the acquisition of a 2,000-MW wind farm from Invenergy, currently under construction in the Oklahoma Panhandle, and a power line to the Tulsa area. PSO's share of the investment is USD 1.36 billion.

"Projects like Wind Catcher help Walmart meet our goal to be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy," said Mark Vanderhelm, vice president of energy at the retail group. "As a PSO customer, we look forward to seeing this important project move forward to provide the renewable, affordable energy we need to help meet our business goals," Vanderhelm added.  

PSO and Walmart asked the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to approve the project under the terms of their settlement agreement. In February, an Oklahoma judge made a recommendation against the preapproval of the project.

PSO said that in the agreement with Walmart it has made additional guarantees, including "new reporting requirements, a lower cost cap on project construction costs, and an assurance that Oklahoma customers will receive, at a minimum, the same benefits afforded SWEPCO customers."

PSO expects Wind Catcher to save its customers around USD 2 billion over its 25-year lifetime.

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

(USD 1 = EUR 0.813)

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Plamena has been a UK-focused reporter for many years. As part of the Renewables Now team she is taking a keen interest in policy moves.

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