“A group known only as Protect Our Pocketbooks – which does not reveal the names of its backers or the sources of its substantial funding – is presenting misleading information to the public, including manipulation of statements by Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson,” said Brian Bond, SWEPCO Vice President of External Affairs.SWEPCO has predicted $4 billion savings to electric customers over 25 years and also said the economy in Arkansas, Texas
Gov. Hutchinson wrote to the Arkansas Public Service Commission on Jan. 11 asking that the benefits of federal corporate tax cuts be passed on by utilities to Arkansas families and businesses. “In its latest television ad, Protect Our Pocketbooks misleadingly associates the governor’s comments about corporate federal tax cuts with the group’s campaign against Wind Catcher,” Bond said.
“The anonymous, tax-exempt opposition group claims that Arkansas gets none of the benefits of the project, which is incorrect and misleading. Arkansas will receive the benefits of generation with no fuel costs, cost savings immediately and over the life of the project, the full value of the federal Production Tax Credits available to the project, and the economic development benefits of wind turbine components being manufactured in Arkansas,” Bond said.
The $4.5 billion Wind Catcher project includes acquisition of a 2,000-megawatt wind farm under construction in the Oklahoma Panhandle and construction of a 360-mile dedicated generation tie line to the Tulsa area, where the existing electrical grid will deliver the wind energy to customers.
SWEPCO, which serves customers in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas, will own 70 percent of the project. SWEPCO’s sister company, Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO) will own 30 percent.
“SWEPCO has been serving Arkansas customers for more than 100 years. This anonymous group has appeared overnight, representing undisclosed interests, to oppose lower electricity costs and more renewable energy for our Arkansas customers,” Bond said.
I am working with an organization called Renewable Arkansas, a non-profit project of Americans for Affordable Energy, which seeks to protect consumers, secure America’s energy future and promote local renewable energy resources.You can see he provided no answers to my concerns about who's paying for his work or the advertising, which included a full-page ad in the Wednesday Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
I am concerned that the Wind Catcher project in Oklahoma places too much risk on Arkansas consumers over the long term, with very little reward. This play is about AEP/SWEPCO’s bottom line, not customers.
I stand by the op-ed that I wrote, and have seen nothing responsive that answers my concerns, directly.