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New technology helps grow healthy food year-round for Shreveport

July 19, 2022

The indoor agriculture container at Shreveport Green's Urban Farm in downtown Shreveport is a collaborative project with SWEPCO and EPRI.

Southwestern Electric Power Co., an American Electric Power (Nasdaq: AEP) company, in collaboration with Shreveport Green and EPRI, today announced the first harvest of Shreveport Green’s Urban Farm, an indoor agriculture facility that utilizes new technology to grow nutritious food year-round.

The Urban Farm on Sprague Street near downtown Shreveport features a controlled environment agriculture (CEA) farm made from a custom shipping container equipped with LED lighting, a high efficiency HVAC system, recirculating water pumps, a dehumidification system, and sensors. Indoor agriculture facilities like this allow for the year-round local production of crops regardless of outdoor conditions. The container uses electric technologies to create a microclimate that optimizes plant production and helps meet other community energy, water, and sustainability goals.

“SWEPCO is proud to collaborate on this exciting project that will help increase access to healthy food in our communities using this innovative farming method,” said SWEPCO President and Chief Operating Officer Malcolm Smoak.

The produce planted inside the container is closely monitored via remote sensor technology, which continuously gathers real-time data on growing conditions. This information allows farmers to remotely control the lighting, temperature and watering conditions to create the ideal setting needed for produce to thrive. Shreveport Green is growing nearly 1,200 Tuscan kale plants in the hydroponic container that holds 88 growing panels. It will be harvested once every week-and-a-half and distributed through the Shreveport Green Mobile Market to provide fresh, nutritious food to the Choice Neighborhood recipients living in Allendale, Ledbetter Heights and Lakeside communities of Shreveport.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this exciting and practical program,” said said Donna Curtis, Shreveport Green Executive Director. “We hope to eventually harvest 90 pounds of produce every three weeks, giving our Mobile Market a dependable source of food. This hydroponic container nicely complements the 22 additional community gardens we have around the city.”

SWEPCO is one of 13 energy companies nationwide participating in a two-year EPRI study designed to demonstrate and better understand opportunities surrounding indoor food production through operation of a CEA farm. Through automated monitoring, researchers at EPRI will be able to evaluate how energy loads, water use, and other controlled parameters vary across different facilities and locations. Other trackable data will also help address questions regarding distribution planning, rate design, and larger societal benefits.

“Indoor agriculture is a rapidly growing and evolving industry across the United States. We’re seeing innovative designs, technologies, and energy applications that are helping CEA farms not only achieve year-round crop cultivation but also contribute to areas of community need like energy and water efficiency goals,” said Frank Sharp, Principal Technical Leader at EPRI. “We’re thrilled to be working with SWEPCO and Shreveport Green to explore potential opportunities from this CEA farm to benefit the Shreveport community.”

About Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO)

SWEPCO, an American Electric Power (Nasdaq: AEP) company, serves more than 543,000 customers in Northwest and Central Louisiana, Northeast Texas and the Texas Panhandle, and Western Arkansas. SWEPCO’s headquarters are in Shreveport, La. News releases and other information about SWEPCO can be found at SWEPCO.com. Connect with us at Facebook.com/SWEPCO, Twitter.com/SWEPCOnews, Instagram.com/swepco, Youtube.com/SWEPCOtv and LinkedIn.com/company/swepco.

About American Electric Power (AEP)

American Electric Power, based in Columbus, Ohio, is powering a cleaner, brighter energy future for its customers and communities. AEP’s approximately 16,700 employees operate and maintain the nation’s largest electricity transmission system and more than 224,000 miles of distribution lines to safely deliver reliable and affordable power to 5.5 million regulated customers in 11 states. AEP also is one of the nation’s largest electricity producers with approximately 31,000 megawatts of diverse generating capacity, including more than 5,900 megawatts of renewable energy. The company’s plans include growing its renewable generation portfolio to approximately 50% of total capacity by 2030. AEP is on track to achieve an 80% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from 2000 levels by 2030 and has committed to achieve net zero by 2050. AEP is recognized consistently for its focus on sustainability, community engagement, and diversity, equity and inclusion. AEP’s family of companies includes utilities AEP Ohio, AEP Texas, Appalachian Power (in Virginia and West Virginia), AEP Appalachian Power (in Tennessee), Indiana Michigan Power, Kentucky Power, Public Service Company of Oklahoma, and Southwestern Electric Power Company (in Arkansas, Louisiana, east Texas and the Texas Panhandle). AEP also owns AEP Energy, which provides innovative competitive energy solutions nationwide. For more information, visit aep.com.

About EPRI
Founded in 1972, EPRI is the world's preeminent independent, non-profit energy research and development organization, with offices around the world. EPRI's trusted experts collaborate with more than 450 companies in 45 countries, driving innovation to ensure the public has clean, safe, reliable, affordable, and equitable access to electricity across the globe. Together, we are shaping the future of energy.



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