Public Service Company of Oklahoma announced today it has cancelled its $4.5 billion proposed Wind Catcher energy project.
In a press release sent shortly after 1 p.m., the company cited a decision announced Thursday by the Public Utility Commission of Texas as the primary factor in terminating its proposed wind energy development, which would have been the largest wind farm in North America.
“We are disappointed with the decision in Texas that resulted in the cancelation of the project. Wind Catcher represented an extraordinary opportunity to provide our customers with low cost, clean Oklahoma energy and create a positive economic impact across the state,” Steven Fate, PSO vice president of regulatory and finance, said in the press release. “We remain committed to finding new solutions that add value for our customers. All of us at PSO deeply appreciate our partners and supporters for their commitment to the project.”
Bloomberg reported Thursday that the Texas commission “unanimously rejected the project as proposed, saying it doesn’t offer enough benefits for ratepayers as currently structured.”
Similar arguments had been made in front of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, whose decision on the project was pending.
Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Todd Hiett — the only of three commissioners not running for an election this year — told NonDoc he had not seen the news release from PSO but that he presumed the Texas ruling primarily influenced the company’s decision.
“I was notified that they were going to stop the project,” Hiett said. “I would assume it was probably a result of yesterday’s hearings in Texas where the commissioners did not give the appearance that they were supportive of the project.”
Hiett confirmed that the project had been controversial in terms of whether ratepayers would benefit from the 2,000 megawatt wind farm’s construction in the Oklahoma panhandle.
“I would just say that the company has worked very hard for many months to try to put together a package that some saw as a major opportunity for Oklahoma taking advantage of federal tax credits to produce low-cost power,” Hiett said. “And at the end of the day, they just were not able to put together all of the jurisdictions needed to complete the project.”
He said he was unsure whether PSO will withdraw its application or whether OCC will need to procedurally dismiss it.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission is scheduled to meet at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.