More Renewable Energy Ahead
Take a look at SWEPCO’s future resource plans, and you’ll see more renewable energy, expanded energy efficiency and less reliance on coal.
Over the next 20 years, SWEPCO expects:
- Renewable energy to grow to 29% of our resource mix – including 16% wind, 12% solar, 1% distributed generation
- Energy efficiency to grow to 4%
- Coal capacity to drop to 35% (from 46%)
These projections are part of SWEPCO’s Integrated Resource Plans, filed with the Louisiana Public Service Commission and Arkansas Public Service Commission in 2015.
An IRP is a 20-year plan that explains how a utility anticipates meeting the projected capacity and energy requirements of its customers in a reliable and economic manner. Many stakeholders take part in the IRP process. As a long-range plan, it is subject to change, but it serves to inform the Commissions and interested parties about the anticipated costs and other considerations of various resource options, as well as SWEPCO’s preferred plan.
SWEPCO has a long-standing commitment to using diverse resources to generate electricity. Between 2006 and 2012, SWEPCO added 800 megawatts of natural gas capacity, 469 megawatts of wind power, and 440 megawatt of advanced-technology coal capacity. For decades, fuel diversity has moderated volatile natural gas costs to help keep rates affordable for our customers.
As we further diversify the energy resources serving our customers, we remain committed to providing safe, affordable and reliable electric power.
- Plant retirements – We retired a major coal unit, Welsh Unit 2, in April 2016. We also plan to retire a number of older natural gas units beginning in 2020, and we anticipate the need for some new natural gas combined-cycle generation in 2026.
- New wind and solar – As early as 2017, we expect to begin adding more wind and solar energy. SWEPCO customers have benefitted from large-scale wind projects for several years, and we have the same expectation for large-scale solar projects. Our plans recognize and incorporate the growing contribution of distributed generation capacity from customers, primarily from rooftop solar. However, we see an even brighter future for large-scale solar projects because of the cost-effective way in which they fulfill the promise of emissions-free energy to our customers. We want customers to get the most solar for their dollars.
- Energy efficiency – We also plan to expand our already successful energy efficiency programs with the goal of further reducing overall energy requirements on the SWEPCO system. We see demand-side and energy efficiency measures increasing from 1% to 4% of our overall resource mix.
- Key coal and gas units – SWEPCO customers will continue to benefit from reliable coal and gas units, including the advanced coal technology Turk Plant, soon-to-be completed environmental retrofits of Welsh 1 and 3, Flint Creek, Pirkey and Dolet Hills coal and lignite units, and the high-efficiency Stall natural gas combined cycle unit.
Clean Power Plan
The U.S. Supreme Court issued in February a stay that blocks implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan while legal challenges proceed in federal court. The regulation requires reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil-fueled power plants. The Supreme Court stay allows for an appropriate legal review of the Clean Power Plan before scarce state and private resources are used to develop state plans. However, the decision doesn’t change AEP’s focus on generating and delivering electricity in ways that meet the needs and expectations of our customers. That includes diversifying our resource mix and investing in renewable generation resources and other innovations that increase efficiency and reduce emissions.