Commission approves SWEPCO wind power
Public Service Commission meets in Winnfield, home of ex-Commissioner Huey Long

The first utility power purchase in the Louisiana Public Service Commission's experiment with renewable energy is going to lower costs for customers, according to Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell.

Meeting Wednesday in Winnfield, the PSC approved a 20-year contract by SWEPCO of Shreveport with a Kansas wind farm for 31 megawatts of power.

Combined with a previous purchase of 80 megawatts of Texas wind power, the new Flat River 2 Wind Energy agreement represents two percent of SWEPCO's overall usage and fulfills the PSC's requirement in its renewable energy pilot program.

"Considering that renewable energy has historically cost more than power from conventional sources, this new SWEPCO wind purchase is a notable achievement for the company and for the Louisiana PSC," Campbell said.

SWEPCO requested authority from the PSC to confirm a 20-year purchase of power from Flat Ridge 2 Wind Energy LLC. The Kansas wind farm was one of more than 45 firms that submitted proposals to SWEPCO earlier this year as part of its mandate from the PSC to test the market for green energy.

SWEPCO said Flat Ridge 2 Wind was one of eight different forms of renewable energy proposed to the company for purchase in the pilot program.

Projects were located in five states and included other types of green power such as solar, hydroelectric, geothermal, biomass, municipal solid waste and landfill gas.

SWEPCO told commissioners that the Flat Ridge wind power would lower SWEPCO customer bills in 2013 by roughly 5 cents per monthly bill for residential customers using 1,000 kilowatt hours and 11 cents per average residential bill in 2014.

"The reductions are modest because the amount of power being purchased is fairly small, but when you consider that green power typically costs more, it is remarkable development for SWEPCO and for Louisiana," Campbell said. "It tells me that the market for renewable energy is becoming more competitive with fossil fuels.

"Plus, it's a clean American resource and not some form of energy we have to import from overseas."

The Flat Ridge 2 wind farm is located in the territory of SWEPCO's regional transmission organization, the Southwest Power Pool, meaning delivery of the power from Kansas to Shreveport will follow authorized SPP routes. The wind farm has a total capacity of 419 megawatts.

The Flat Ridge wind deal is SWEPCO's second contract for purchase of wind power. In January 2009 the company signed a 20-year agreement for 80 megawatts of wind energy from Majestic Wind Farm near Amarillo, Texas.

The renewable-energy bid process used by SWEPCO was authorized by the PSC and reviewed by the commission staff.

Besides SWEPCO, Entergy Gulf States, Entergy Louisiana and CLECO are all in various stages of fulfilling their PSC mandate to develop renewable energy pilot programs.