Developer American Electric Power (AEP) is seeking approval from regulators in US states of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas to buy a trio of renewable energy projects totalling just under 1GW of capacity, including one of the largest PV arrays east of the Mississippi River.
The planned $2.2bn investment by AEP-owned Southwestern Electric Power (Swepco) encompasses the 200MW Mooringsport solar plant in northwest Louisiana, and the 598.4MW Wagon Wheel and 200.6MW Diversion wind farms in north-central Oklahoma and north Texas.
Chicago-based Invenergy is developing the three facilities. Diversion is due to enter commercial operation in December 2024, and Mooringsport and Wagon Wheel by the end of 2025.
Swepco’s long-term plan calls for more than one-third of its capacity accredited to the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) to be satisfied with solar and wind resources. SPP manages the electric grid and wholesale electricity market in all or parts of 14 central states.
“This investment is another key step in Swepco’s efforts to secure renewable, affordable energy and achieve a more balanced fuel mix,” said Nick Atkins, CEO of AEP. “AEP remains focused on adding 16GW of regulated renewables to our generation portfolio by 2030 and reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”
Swepco serves western Arkansas and western Louisiana, and east Texas. It is one of seven utility subsidiaries owned by AEP, which also owns a competitive retail energy business.
The Mooringsport project is the latest sign that carbon-heavy Louisiana is starting to transition to a clean energy future by 2050, a path laid out in a climate action plan approved earlier this year, the first by a southern US state that borders the Gulf of Mexico.
The plan sets interim goals in 2025 to cut greenhouse gas emissions 26-28% and in 2030, a 40-50% reduction, from 2005 levels. It proposes multiple measures to encourage utility-scale solar development and set a goal of 5GW offshore wind capacity by 2035.
About 66% of the state’s emissions are concentrated in the industrial sector, driven primarily by refining, chemical manufacturing, and natural gas processing facilities. Another 13% result from electric power generation. Per capita energy consumption is second among states.
Natural gas is the main fuel for power generation followed by nuclear and coal. Renewables, mainly hydro, play a small role.