July 26, 2018 Read More →

AEP sets end-August deadline for Wind Catcher project

Columbus Business First:

This quarter will be “definitive” for AEP Corp.’s titanic wind farm project in Texas and Oklahoma.

During the second-quarter earnings call, investors repeatedly pushed the Columbus-based energy giant for more detail on where things stand with the $4.5 billion Wind Catcher Energy Connection, which is pending regulatory approvals from the two states. AEP recently delayed the timeline for the project to give regulators a few more weeks, but the company is growing impatient.

If completed, the 2,000-megawatt, 800-turbine wind farm would be the largest in the United States, serving people in four states. Louisiana and Arkansas already have approved the project, but regulators in Texas and Oklahoma asked for more time to review it.

AEP’s original schedule called for the need to order the longest-lead-time equipment by Aug. 6. Through some negotiations, it has been able to delay those orders until the end of August, but the company can’t afford to delay much longer, AEP CFO Brian Tierney told investors. It needs to make its timetables in order for developer Invenergy LLC to complete the wind farm by 2020. “We cannot afford to continue to allow this thing to languish. Construction has started. The company is incurring expenses,” Tierney said in the earnings call. “In deference to commissions, … we’re saying the end of August, and that’s where we’re at.”

Part of the delay comes from the legal navigating that forces the company to go to all four states for major adjustments to its plan. Cost recovery agreements are among the divisions, reports The Oklahoman. But Tierney also pinned delays on election season.

“There’s just a lot of confusion out there and sometimes you focus so much on the margins of what could happen to this versus looking at the amazing benefits across the board that are out there – you get hung up in that kind of dialogue,” Tierney said. “When you get past that and to the fact, we’ll be in much better shape.”

More: AEP getting anxious over delays in $4.5B Wind Catcher project, earnings call shows

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