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Financing completed on last of three wind farms under arm of American Electric Power

Financing completed on last of three wind farms under arm of American Electric Power

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Construction financing for the final of three wind farms to be owned by Tulsa-based PSO’s parent company, American Electric Power, has been completed.

International energy giant Invenergy announced the financial milestone Wednesday for its biggest wind energy development to date, the 999-megawatt Traverse Wind Energy Center.

Located in Custer, Blaine, and Kingfisher counties, Traverse is the largest of three wind energy projects being developed by Invenergy as part of the 1,485-megawatt North Central Energy Facilities.

In February 2020, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission OK’d a settlement agreement for Public Service Company to own a share of NCEF and add 675 megawatts of wind energy to serve its customers.

The three wind farms represent a $2 billion investment in Oklahoma, and PSO’s 45.5% ownership piece of the project is projected to save PSO customers more than $1 billion, net of cost, during the time the wind farms are in service. PSO’s partner in the proposal is sister company Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO).

Wind power is used to relieve electric utilities’ heavy reliance on natural gas for fuel. News of the wind farms’ progress also comes as PSO is asking for OCC help on cost recovery plans related to February’s prolonged cold snap. PSO estimated those preliminary costs at $825 million.

The other two projects — 287-megawatt Maverick Wind Energy Center in Major, Garfield and Kingfisher counties and the 199-megawatt Sundance Wind Energy Center in Woods and Major counties — also have closed on financing.

All three projects are under construction, and AEP will assume ownership of them upon start of commercial operations to serve customers of subsidiaries Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) and PSO. Sundance is expected to begin commercial operations this spring, Maverick later this year and Traverse in early 2022.

“The close of construction financing for the Traverse Wind project, Invenergy’s largest wind development to date, is a significant milestone,” Meghan Schultz, Invenergy’s senior vice president of financing and capital markets, said in a statement.

“This transaction, in addition to the recent Maverick and Sundance financial closings, is a testament to Invenergy’s strong lender relationships and financing capabilities as well as the compelling value of wind investments.”

The wind farms are scheduled to generate enough electricity to power 440,000 homes.

Invenergy Services, a subsidiary of Invenergy, will provide operations and maintenance, balance of plant, energy management and asset management services under a 10-year agreement.

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The Biden administration says jobs will fix the climate crisis.  "Our plans are ambitious, but we are America," President Biden said. "We're bold." President Biden says his plan will require retraining thousands of people to retrofit housing, build solar panels, wind turbines and more. His goal: 10 million clean energy jobs. Many of the workers filling those jobs would come from the hundreds of thousands who currently work in the fossil fuel industry.   "We've lost 10 million jobs in the COVID-19 recession," Robert E. Scott, senior economist at Economic Policy Institute, said. "We need to make those jobs up."  The president has proposed a $2 trillion climate plan over the next four years, but it's probably only the tip of the iceberg. "The Biden plan is just a down payment on a conversion to clean energy products," Scott said. "It's going to take about 30 years by the best estimates I've seen. It gets spending ramped up, but we're going to have to increase it further and sustain it over that 30 year period in order to get the conventional energy supplies out of our economy."Right now, the United States depends on fossil fuels for about 80 percent of its energy.  Studies have shown that burning coal, crude oil or natural gas, can produce large amounts of carbon dioxide trapping heat in the atmosphere causing global warming, a sign of human-caused climate change. "We have to do something about it and that it is literally a threat to human life."Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat, supports Republican initiatives to continue fracking a major industry in his home state of Pennsylvania. Newsy asked: "Do you think it will be possible for people to transition from working in fossil fuel to renewable energy?""It's going to require a determined effort to provide people the opportunity and the training," Casey told Newsy. "Everybody understands we need to reduce our carbon footprint on the planet."Congressman Kelly Armstrongs family has devoted their entire livelihood into the oil and gas industry.  "The reality is, is these jobs don't exist," Armstrong said. "We need energy. We have to have it. And to say that we can do it all with solar and wind under current technologies is just simply not true." Meanwhile, the demand for solar power has been on the rise. "I know a lot of those guys that were on the pipelines and they are hard, hard workers and that's exactly what we need in this industry," Ches Heitmeyer, owner of Solar Sam in Columbia, Missouri, said. The bottom line, America needs to invest before it can run on just renewable energy. "We're not going to eliminate the oil and gas industry, for example, overnight," Scott said. "Those jobs will still be there. We will still need these fuels in the transition."   

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