With emerging wind power options as well as solar, SWEPCO VP Brian Bond said Thursday that he was optimistic on renewable energy growth as well as existing generation resources like the Fulton Turk Plant at the south end of Hempstead County.

With emerging wind power options as well as solar, SWEPCO VP Brian Bond said Thursday that he was  optimistic on renewable energy growth as well as existing generation resources like the Fulton Turk Plant at the south end of Hempstead County.
A major energy provider in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma, SWEPCO is also well known as the wholesale electricity provider for Hope Water & Light and the City of Prescott, both places with have struggled with high energy costs in recent years.
Bond said, “There are a lot of factors that go into a given rate. For Hope and Prescott, a good deal of the cost structure goes into transmission, infrastructure, and regulation compliance.”
For Hope Water & Light, Bond added “And, they would have their own cost of maintaining lines and infrastructure in addition to our charges and the Southwest Power Pool.”
Bond said that in the overlapping years SWEPCO had made a major investment in transmission lines, mainly in terms of what he called “retro fits” to ensure capabilities with older lines.
“Year over year, however, we are projecting our rates to go down slightly between 2017 and 2018. perhaps by as much as a percent,” he said.
Rate movement has been the subject of many state news reports in recent days as the Arkansas Public Service Commission is currently holding hearings and collecting information on provider’s rates.
The catalyst comes from letters from both Arkansas Asa Hutchinson and US Senator John Boozman urging major investor-owned utilities like Entergy, which services most of the Arkansas, to pass on tax savings from the recent Trump Tax Reform measures passed to customers and residents.
At the Arkansas PSC, Entergy reported an estimated $466 million in tax relief.
“Ours is not quite that high; they have a much bigger footprint in the state of Arkansas than we do,” Bond said, but he added “We will be filing our own paperwork with the Arkansas PSC shortly, and we are still working on projecting what savings to customers will be there. The Arkansas PSC has moved pretty quickly on this matter, and I expect we will have something very shortly.”
Because paperwork and filing was in progress, Bond could not speculate how much savings or possible rebates that its residential or wholesale customers would receive.
What the net effect for either customers of Hope Water & Light or Prescott have yet to be seen, Bond conceded, also saying “We are mindful of the economic stresses that are there for Hope and Prescott. High electric delivery costs are not only not good for the residents, but also hurt efforts in economic development.”
“It has also been a soft economy in our service area for much of the past eight years; the load growth has not really been there,” he said.
Bond said he was very excited about SWEPCO’s ongoing Wind Catcher Energy Connection project, which is now underway in neighboring Oklahoma.
“Renewal energy projects like this, and in the competitive solar market, are great opportunities for project at very low cost after the initial infrastructure investment. Once the props are going, there is very little in the way of man power, maintenance or production costs.  It is a very different source of electric generation than something like the Turk plant,” he said.
“It is going to be these components of our renewables integration plan that are going to bring costs down in the long term, and compliment existing sources like clean coal,” he said.