The Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO), a subsidiary of investor-owned utility American Electric Power (AEP), petitioned the state’s corporate commission for approval to purchase power from a 995.5 MW solar and wind project portfolio.
PSO named the portfolio the “Fuel-Free Power Plan,” a large set of projects that involve a total investment of $2.47 billion. It includes the 103 MW Chisholm Trail solar facility and 150 MW Algodon solar facility in Texas, as well as the 189 MW Pixley solar facility in Kansas, expected to come online in April 2025. The portfolio also includes three large-scale wind facilities.
The utility said the plan will lessen reliance on natural gas resources, shielding customers from volatile prices and cutting emissions. It is also designed to help meet increasing demand as required by the Southwest Power Pool.
All facilities are expected to reach operation by the end of 2025. PSO said the massive buildout will lead to an average monthly bill cost increase of $3.48 per month, a modest increase and more stable than what is expected from volatile natural gas prices.
Currently, PSO operates 3.8 GW of generation capacity, with aims to reach 50% renewable energy by 2032.
“At PSO we understand the importance of providing affordable service and through this plan, we are excited to keep delivering on that commitment to our customers,” said Leigh Anne Strahler, president and chief operating officer of PSO . “This investment in fuel-free power is another step in our efforts to shield our customers against high costs while meeting their energy needs.”
The projects are set to significantly boost Oklahoma’s total solar generation capacity, a welcome sign for a state with high solar irradiance. Through Q2 2022, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reports that Oklahoma has 100 MW of solar deployed, ranking it in the bottom five states in the nation.
The state houses 26 solar companies, including three manufacturers, 12 installers/developers, and 11 others, employing 868 people. SEIA reports that $189 million has been invested in solar in the state, so the Fuel-Free Power Plan may mark the birth of a new era of solar in Oklahoma.
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