PSO’s $2.5 billion renewable energy plan will result in cost to consumers

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The recently announced move by Public Service Company of Oklahoma to request state permission to acquire $2.5 billion in renewable energy sources means higher utility bills for its customers.

Documents on file by PSO with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission show the utility is expecting its consumers to foot the bill.

How much? Between about $3.50 to nearly $4 more a month in bills for the typical PSO customer. As one PSO executive testified in a filing with the Commission, the average residential customer using 1,100 kWh will see a total net increase of approximately $3.48 a month when all of the solar and wind power facilities are included.

“The total PSO retail average will be an increase of approximately 2.1% when all the facilities are included in the rider,” stated Noah K. Hollis, director of Corporate Finance for American Electric Power Service Corporation, parent company of PSO.

The year one impact, thought to be 2025, reflected a net $3.71 a month increase for one solar generating facility and one wind facility. But the second year impact would result in a 24-cent a month drop from year one for all six Renewable Resources sought by PSO. It would bring the total net increase of PSO’s proposal to $3.48 more a month.

The utility defends its move to acquire three wind farms and three solar farms in Kansas and Texas by saying its ownership of the Renewable Resources “will be beneficial for customers by supplying needed capacity and fuel free energy.” It also says the addition of the solar and wind power projects will be the reduction of the carbon footprint created in supplying power to customers.

PSO wants the permission of Oklahoma regulators to pass along the costs to consumers. Without it, Hollis testified that “a meaningful delay in recovery of the Renewable Resources will strain the credit metrics as there will be an increase in debt to the company.”

In turn, he said depending on how long the delay in the recovery lasts, “rating agencies could take action that may include placing the company on negative outlook or even the possibility of a downgrade.”

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Of the six projects in question, two are located in Texas—the Lazbuddie wind farm in Parmer County and the Algodon Solar project in Terry County, Texas. Parmer County is located southwest of Amarillo and adjacent to Clovis, New Mexico. Terry County is immediately adjacent to Lubbock, Texas.

The four remaining projects are in Kansas. The Pixley solar project is in Barber County, just next to the state line with Oklahoma. The Flat Ridge IV wind farm is in Kingman & Harper Counties, west and southwest of Wichita, Kansas. The Flat Ridge V wind farm will be in Harper County. The Chisholm Trail solar farm will be in Sedgwick County where Wichita is located.