FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 23, 2018
Contact: Peter Nierengarten
Director of Sustainability
City and U of A Join to Support Renewable Energy Project
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas and the City of Fayetteville are both supporting the development of a renewable wind farm in Oklahoma and a dedicated power line to deliver renewable energy to the Tulsa area, where the existing grid will carry it to Northwest Arkansas. This 2,000-megawatt project will be the largest single-site wind farm in the United States and will supply enough electricity for approximately 800,000 homes.
Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO), a unit of American Electric Power (AEP), will own 70 percent of the Wind Catcher Energy Connection Project. Wind Catcher is a renewable energy project that will use 800 wind turbines in the panhandle of Oklahoma to generate electricity beginning in 2021.
The U of A and City of Fayetteville have both expressed support for the project in comments to the Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC), where a settlement agreement was filed on Feb 20, 2018, seeking approval of the project. A settlement agreement also has been announced in the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) proceeding. Final decisions are pending at the APSC, LPSC, Public Utility Commission of Texas and Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
“We believe that Wind Catcher will be able to deliver reliable, renewable electricity to the Northwest Arkansas region, including the University and City of Fayetteville, over the next 25 years,” said Mike Johnson, associate vice chancellor for facilities at the University. “From everything we’ve seen about the project we expect it to provide significant economic benefits to SWEPCO customers and the region, as well as help both the U of A and Fayetteville meet their goals to reduce carbon emissions. We’re happy to join other regional supporters who share this goal, including Walmart and the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association.”
The University of Arkansas is committed to the goal of achieving carbon neutrality for all of its operations by 2040. The City of Fayetteville’s Energy Action Plan, the first in the state, includes the goals of achieving 100 percent clean energy for local government operations by 2030, and 100 percent community-wide clean energy by 2050. “The Wind Catcher Project helps the City of Fayetteville take a huge step towards our 100 percent clean energy goals and reducing carbon emissions” said Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan, adding “Fayetteville is committed to working with leaders of other cities, states, universities, and businesses to combat climate change by supporting a low-carbon economy and creating good jobs in energy efficiency and renewable energy.”
“Wind Catcher would be a fiscally and environmentally responsible way to reduce U of A’s carbon footprint by more than 40 percent,” said Eric Boles, director of the U of A Office for Sustainability. “It seems appropriate to state our support for this project during Earth Week -- and to advocate for others to follow suit.”
As cornerstones of Fayetteville, The City and the University, express their enthusiastic support for the work SWEPCO and its sister company, Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO), have already completed with the Wind Catcher project and look forward to working collaboratively in the coming years to investigate the feasibility of other clean energy projects. The City of Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas encourage other organizations, businesses, and local governments in the region to join in offering support for the Wind Catcher Energy Connection Project and other clean energy projects.