Oklahoma Corporation Commission administrative law judge Mary Candler recommended against advance approval of Wind Catcher.
The utility has said the power would supply electricity to customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas – but needs to prove that customers should pay for the $4.5 billion Oklahoma project through power rates.
Judge Candler used existing statutes and commission rules to make the recommendation after conducting a hearing on the issue and reviewing filed testimony from dozens of witnesses.
Highlights of Judge Candler’s comments include:
- Wind Catcher violated the commission’s rules by failing to request preapproval of the project before starting construction.
- Wind Catcher failed to prove sufficient need for additional electrical capacity, as required by commission rules.
- Wind Catcher analysis used “unreasonable data” and a “flawed planning process” that overstate the project’s benefits.
- Associated risks of cost overruns and nonperformance may result in Wind Catcher failing to qualify for full federal wind production tax credits.
- The utility failed to competitively bid the project. "An excuse of 'not enough time' for competitive bidding is not sufficient in light of the significant cost to be borne by PSO customers," the judge stated as part of the recommendation.
The utility previously had said it expected Wind Catcher would be operational in late 2020, and that its costs would add about $78 million to its customers' rates in 2021.
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter applauded the administrative law judge's recommendation.
"The Wind Catcher project will be a net cost to customers of at least $320 million, based on our analysis," Hunter said. “We hope the commissioners do the right thing for PSO ratepayers and uphold the judge's recommendations.”
In addition to Oklahoma, the project must be approved in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas.
Wind Catcher is a risky deal that will hurt consumers. Call the Public Service Commission in your state and tell them to oppose this project.
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