Serves customers with diverse energy resource mix
When it’s time to turn on the lights, you may not realize the sources of energy behind the switch. Natural gas, coal, lignite and wind – for decades, SWEPCO’s strategy of energy resource diversity has been at work for customers, providing reliable and affordable power.
The proposed Wind Catcher Energy Connection project will be the latest addition to the mix, and it continues SWEPCO’s strategy.
In recent years, has added 800 megawatts of natural gas-generating capacity, including the 500-megawatt combined-cycle J. Lamar Stall Unit in Shreveport. The Stall Unit is a high-efficiency workhorse that anchors the electrical grid in Northwest Louisiana. It’s one of the newest combined-cycle plants in the state, taking advantage of Louisiana natural gas as part of its fuel supply. SWEPCO also added 440 megawatts of advanced technology coal capacity and today has 469 megawatts of wind power as part of its generation strategy.
Louisiana has the opportunity to be a part of another major effort to lower electricity costs for many years in the future. SWEPCO’s Wind Catcher project is an exceptional opportunity to reduce customers’ electric bills, bring clean and affordable energy to homes and businesses and add diversity to the generation resources serving Louisiana. The lower costs for customers occur largely because wind energy has zero fuel costs.
The project will deliver renewable energy and save Louisiana customers more than $1.1 billion over the 25- year life of the wind farm. Wind Catcher taps into one of the best wind resources in North America and delivers low-cost energy to the existing grid serving SWEPCO customers, who will see direct savings through the fuel savings in their bills, starting in 2021.
Those savings translate into positive economic impacts for Louisiana – savings for families, businesses and communities, as well as lower electricity costs that help power economic development. Businesses that are looking to relocate or expand usually have electricity costs at the top of their lists of deciding factors. Many of our customers also have their own renewable energy and sustainability goals that can be addressed with the project. In addition, Louisiana manufacturing will benefit from Wind Catcher. Components of the 800 wind turbines supplied by GE Renewable Energy for the project will be made in Louisiana.
SWEPCO and its partner in the project, Public Service Company of Oklahoma, have reached settlement agreements in Arkansas and Oklahoma. In Arkansas, the agreement balances the interests of customers, SWEPCO and other parties, including Walmart, a major user of electric power.
Some supporters of solar energy have questioned whether SWEPCO’s Wind Catcher project is right for SWEPCO’s customers. It’s not clear if the anonymous, tax-exempt groups opposing Wind Catcher are solar energy providers, solar energy manufacturers, or just other interested parties.
SWEPCO has a responsibility to choose energy resources based on economics. Wind Catcher is a timely opportunity to deliver power to customers at half the price of a large-scale solar project in Louisiana. It doesn’t rule out solar for the future, but it shows the significant price advantage of Wind Catcher today.
SWEPCO is an advocate of energy resource diversity, which helps moderate the sometimes volatile impacts of the energy marketplace. Whether it is natural gas, coal, renewables or other resources, the company has an obligation to serve customers at the lowest reasonable cost. The Wind Catcher Energy Connection project will serve SWEPCO’s customers well with long-term savings that will benefit individuals and the local economy.
I encourage you to learn more about the Wind Catcher project at SWEPCOwindfacts.com.
Thomas Brice, vice president, regulatory & finance, Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO).