PSO project could save customers money on bills

Chris Day

Public Service Company of Oklahoma is turning to windpower to diversify its energy supply and save customers money.

The company announced its Wind Catcher Energy Connection project Wednesday, and will seek approval from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. If all regulatory approvals are granted, the project could be completed in late 2020, with delivery of wind energy to begin at that time, according to a PSO news release.

“PSO is very excited about this extraordinary opportunity to reduce costs for our customers by delivering to them high quality, very low-priced Oklahoma wind energy,” said Stuart Solomon, PSO president and chief operating officer. “At the same time, the Wind Catcher project will boost the Oklahoma economy, create thousands of new jobs, and provide tax revenues for local governments. There’s never been a project like Wind Catcher, and we’re pleased to bring it forward for the benefit of our customers and the state.”

Wind Catcher includes construction of the largest wind-energy facility in the nation, and a dedicated generation tie-line that would deliver the wind energy to Public Service Company of Oklahoma customers. If the project is approved and goes online, PSO customers will receive nearly 40 percent of their energy from wind power.

PSO and its sister company, Southwestern Electric Power Co., will partner on the $4.5 billion project with PSO’s share of the investment totaling $1.3 billion.

The proposal calls for PSO to own 600 megawatts of a 2,000 megawatt wind farm that Invenergy is building near Guymon in the Oklahoma panhandle. The utility also would own part of the approximately 350-mile dedicated generation tie-line that would stretch from the panhandle to the Tulsa area. The tie-line will allow PSO and SWEPCO to efficiently deliver the low-cost wind energy to customers.

The project should provide net savings to PSO customers of over $2 billion over the life of the project. Customer savings begin in the first year of operation, and are over and above the costs of the Wind Catcher project, according to the press release.

The projected net savings for PSO’s customers result primarily from reduced energy costs, resulting from the low cost of wind energy and associated tax benefits that PSO will pass on to its customers, according to the release. There are no fuel costs associated with producing wind energy.