LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A utility under fire by environmentalists and landowners for construction of a $1.5 billion coal-fired power plant in southwest Arkansas has announced plans to buy all the electricity generated by a Texas wind farm.
Southwestern Electric Power Co. would not disclose the financial terms of the agreement with Majestic Wind Farm near Amarillo, but SWEPCO spokesman Peter Main said the contract was "reasonably priced and it's locked in for 20 years."
Main said it would be years, however, before SWEPCO would have a firm transmission load from the 79.5 megawatt farm and its 53 turbines for use by customers in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. The farm is to enter service by the end of this month. SWEPCO has a goal to add 1,000 megawatts of wind power between 2007 and 2011.
The company, based in Shreveport, La., has begun construction of a 600-megawatt coal-fired power plant near Fulton in Hempstead County. At the same time, SWEPCO is fighting ongoing legal challenges from opponents who say the plant will degrade the environment and wildlife habitat, as well as threaten public health.
Coal-fired power plants are among the chief sources of greenhouse gases, which are blamed for global warming.
According to Energy Information Administration, about 7 percent of all energy used nationwide in 2007 was from renewable resources. Biomass accounted for slightly more than half of that, while hydroelectricity generated roughly one-third. Wind and geothermal energy each provided about 5 percent, and solar energy accounted for 1 percent.
SWEPCO is a subsidiary of Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power, among the largest electric utilities in the country.
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.