As Part of Turk Settlement with Sierra Club, Swepco Buys Wind Energy

by Lance Turner  on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012 2:40 pm  

(Note: A correction has been made to this story. See the end of the story for more.)

American Electric Power subsidiary Southwestern Electric Power Co., or Swepco, said Wednesday that it has signed long-term agreements to buy renewable energy from wind projects in three states as part of a settlement agreement with environmentalists.

Swepco said it has contracted to buy 358.65 megawatts of renewable energy from Canadian Hills Wind near Oklahoma City, Okla.; High Majestic Wind II in the Texas Panhandle; and Flat Ridge 2 Wind Energy southwest of Wichita, Kan.

Under a separate agreement, Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority, who with Swepco is a co-owner of the John W. Turk Jr. Power Plant in Fulton (Hempstead County), will buy 49.2 megawatts of wind power for its own customers.

Swepco said the agreements will "more than quadruple" its wind energy portfolio.

"With these long-term power purchase agreements, we have added a substantial amount of wind energy to serve Swepco customers in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas, and we have combined efforts with a Turk Plant partner to exceed the 400-megawatt commitment in our Turk plant settlement," said Nicholas K. Akins, the president and chief executive officer of American Electric Power, the publicly traded firm that owns Swepco.

In December, Swepco announced that it had had settled lawsuits over the Turk plant brought against it by the Sierra Club, the National Audubon Society and Audubon Arkansas.

The settlement includes a provision that Swepco and its affiliates build or secure 400 megawatts of new renewable energy resources by the end of 2014.

Glen Hooks, a senior campaign representative of the Sierra Club's "Beyond Coal" campaign, characterized the agreements as part of a "clean energy revolution."

"Today, as a result of our recent legal settlement, hundreds of megawatts of clean wind energy will power homes and businesses in our region for the next 20 to 25 years," he said. "Unlike dirty coal, which devastates our air, water, and communities, wind power produces zero pollution."

The environmental groups, along with private landowners, had sued Swepco over the $1.7 billion plant, which is still under construction in the small southwest Arkansas town. They claimed construction was destroying wetlands.

Swepco claims more than 520,000 retail customers in three states: 113,700 in western Arkansas, 225,700 in northwest and central Louisiana and 181,000 in north and eastern Texas.

The company owns 73 percent of the Turk plant. Co-owners are Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp., which has a 12 percent stake; East Texas Electric Cooperative, at 8 percent; and OMPA, at 7 percent.

(Correction, Jan. 26, 2011: In the story's third paragraph, we incorrectly reported that Swepco was purchasing wind energy from the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority as part of the settlement. That error has been corrected.)



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