By Randy Bynum
On May 8, 2018 the Arkansas Public Service Commission approved, with certain modifications and conditions, a settlement agreement reached between SWEPCO and other parties, including Wal Mart, the Attorney General and the General Staff of the Commission regarding SWEPCO’s acquisition of the Wind Catcher Project. The Wind Catcher Project will be a 2,000 MW wind generation facility in the Oklahoma Panhandle that will deliver wind energy into the SPP footprint via a dedicated generation tie line. The only party to the docket not joining in the settlement with SWEPCO was South Central MCN, LLC, a transmission-only public utility operating in Oklahoma. The Wind Catcher Project will be located within South Central’s transmission system footprint and will ultimately interconnect with South Central. South Central did not join in the settlement because it did not provide any opportunity for South Central to include near- and long-term needs of its customers in planning the Wind Catcher interconnection.
In approving the acquisition, the Commission stated that SWEPCO and the settling parties presented substantial evidence that the Wind Catcher Project will “lower SWEPCO's overall cost to serve customers, continue SWEPCO's strategy of diversifying its generation mix as outlined in its 2015 integrated resource plan (IRP), and serve the renewable goals of SWEPCO's customers.” Arkansas ratepayers will be responsible for $607 million of the $3.29 billion total cost of the Project. For an average SWEPCO residential customer in Arkansas who uses 1000 kWh, the monthly bill is projected to decrease by 2.55% ($2.46) in 2021, 3.08% ($2.97) in 2022, and 2.85% ($2.75) in 2013. A copy of the Commission’s order may be found here.