American Electric Power (AEP) is investing $4.5 billion to build the largest wind farm in the United States at a site in the Oklahoma panhandle. Known as the Wind Catcher Energy Connection, the 2-gigawatt wind project will include 800 2.5-megawatt wind turbines built by General Electric.
The farm is located over approximately 300,000 acres in Cimarron and Texas Counties, Oklahoma, which is a particularly windy area. Nearly 99% of the land in the project site area will remain in agricultural use, supporting the primary industry in the area.
The massive project has created over 8,000 jobs for construction workers and will support 80 permanent, full-time operations jobs. In addition to the wind farm itself, the project also includes the construction of a 350-mile-long power dedicated, extra-high-power transmission line with a substation at the wind farm and another in Tulsa that will deliver power across the region. The Wind Catcher facility will deliver clean energy to 1.1 million Public Service Co. of Oklahoma and Southwest Electric Power Co. customers across Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. (The project is expected to come online by the end of 2020).
The project is being developed for AEP by Invenergy and GE Renewable Energy. AEP is in the process of rebalancing its energy fleet, which historically has been predominantly coal. The company anticipates that Wind Catcher will save its customers $7 billion over its 25-year lifetime. The project is attractive to power companies that can purchase electricity at a fixed price for decades without any consideration of energy commodity prices.
Despite a hostile federal administration, the growth of renewable energy sources is continuing even in the reddest of red states.
Photo courtesy of GE Renewable Energy.