GE Snags Historic 1.48-GW Agreement for Oklahoma Wind Turbines

GE Renewable Energy has bagged what it says is the “largest combined onshore wind project” in its history to provide wind turbines for a set of three wind farms privately held sustainable energy firm Invenergy is developing in north-central Oklahoma. 

Invenergy’s 1.48-GW North Central Wind Energy Facilities include the 999-MW Traverse Wind Energy Center, the 287-MW Maverick Wind Energy Center, and the 199-MW Sundance Wind Energy Center. All will be sited in north-central Oklahoma.

The Traverse facility is poised to become the largest wind farm in the country if it goes online as scheduled between December 2021 and April 2022. Maverick is slated to be completed in December 2021, and Sundance is scheduled to be completed early this year. All three projects will be jointly owned by American Electric Power (AEP) subsidiaries Public Service Co. of Oklahoma (PSO) and Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) once they are completed. 

According to AEP, PSO received approval from Oklahoma regulators and SWEPCO received approval from regulators in Arkansas and Louisiana to acquire the North Central Wind Energy Facilities on a fixed-cost turnkey basis at completion in 2020. Both the Arkansas Public Service Commission and the Louisiana Public Service Commission approved the flex-up option, agreeing to acquire the Texas portion, which the Public Utilities Commission of Texas denied. “PSO will own 45.5% and SWEPCo will own 54.5% of the project, which will cost approximately $2 billion,” AEP said. 

Progress for the massive project in light of the COVID pandemic, which pressured global wind turbine supply chains, is notable, as Invenergy pointed out on Wednesday. “It is critical that Invenergy work with trusted partners as we develop and build the North Central Wind Energy Facilities; including Traverse, the largest wind farm in the country, and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jim Shield, EVP and Chief Commercial Officer at Invenergy.

The project specifically benefited from notice by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in May 2020 that extended “Continuity Safe Harbor” deadlines for qualifying renewable energy projects that began construction in 2016 and 2017 by one year in light of the pandemic. “Provided that each facility does satisfy the Continuity Safe Harbor, under the current IRS guidance, the 199-MW wind facility will qualify for 100% of the federal PTC [production tax credit], and the remaining two wind facilities, totaling 1,286 MWs, will qualify for 80% of the federal PTC,” said AEP. 

Under the agreement announced on March 31, GE Renewable Energy “will deliver 492 x 2.X-127s and 39 x 2.X-116 turbines with varying nameplates and hub heights.” The North Central Wind project is the second onshore project in the Western Hemisphere that is larger than 1 GW that GE will build out continuously, noted Tim White, CEO of GE Renewable Energy’s Onshore Wind Americas business. The uptick in larger projects reinforces “both the demand for clean, renewable wind energy and GE’s strong position in the market,” he said. 

In a statement, GE pointed to recent recognition by the American Clean Power Association (ACPA)—an organization known until January as the American Wind Energy Association—as the top manufacturer of wind turbines in the U.S. in 2020 for the third year in a row. 

“Of the total onshore wind installed nationwide, ACPA reported that GE technology was deployed in 53% of new capacity additions, as well as in 31% of new projects under construction or in advanced development that have selected an OEM [original equipment manufacturer],” the company said. 

—Sonal Patel is a POWER senior associate editor (@sonalcpatel, @POWERmagazine)

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