Ohio-based American Electric Power, is applying for regulatory approval to build the transmission infrastructure for the “Wind Catcher.” That’s the massive wind farm project under construction in Oklahoma that will be the second largest in the world.
AEP was once a leading coal-fired power plant operator. Now, it‘s gearing up for a building program for renewable energy distribution that includes the Oklahoma project -- and much more.
AEP's Director of External Communication, Melissa McHenry, says, “What we’re looking at now is really investing $9 billion over the next three years in the transmission system, the big super highway that moves power -- in order to enable new sources of generation, like renewable, which require flexibility.”
In addition to applying for state permits for the Oklahoma project, AEP will eventually file with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for interstate transmission certification.
"Wind Catcher" is expected to go on line in 2020 and American Electric Power plans to buy the multi-billion-dollar power generation facility from the developers—GE and Invenergy. But the infrastructure build-out will be completed first.
McHenry explains why.
“Infrastructure is not always the most popular thing, but is very important if we’re going to look at developing new cleaner energy resources. We also have to have the associated investment in the system itself to support that.”
McHenry says because the output of wind and solar power generation fluctuates greatly, most standard transmission systems have problems distributing it.