Wind Catcher Energy Connection project power line route

This map shows the Wind Catcher Energy Connection project power line route. Public Service Com­pany of Oklahoma (PSO) is holding additional open house meetings for six study segments to make final route adjustments. One of the segments is north of Enid, another is north of Woodward. 

(Provided graphic)

ENID, Okla. — Wind Catcher Energy Con­nection, a joint effort between Public Service Co. of Oklahoma and Southwestern Electric Power Co., is a $4.5 billion project that involves building a wind farm in Oklahoma, a 350-mile power line and two substations.

The wind farm, to be built on 300,000 acres in Cimarron and Texas counties in the Panhandle, will include about 800 2.5 MW wind turbines. A power line will stretch from there to Tulsa, bringing 2,000 megawatts of energy to customers in Eastern and Southwestern Oklahoma, in addition to parts of Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Development of the line route began in the summer of 2017, and the project is expected to deliver wind energy to customers by the end of 2020.

The project’s wind farm is acquired from Invenergy and currently under construction in the Panhandle. Wind Catcher will be the largest wind energy facility in the United States and second largest in the world.

“The Wind Catcher is like no other project that I’ve ever seen in my career. It is an unprecedented project. The sheer size of it dwarfs anything that we’ve ever done, and it may be the largest private investment that’s ever been made in the state of Oklahoma,” said PSO President and COO Stuart Solomon to the Enid Regional Development Alliance Friday.

Solomon said there is a dedicated power line for the project because of “congestion.”

“There’s increasing traf­­­fic congestion on the transmission system. Particularly in Western Oklahoma and Central Oklahoma. You can’t move that power from the Panhandle to our customer base without some dedicated pipe or power line to make that happen, because we have zero confidence with the congestion that exists today on the system,” Solomon said.

On Jan. 3, PSO an­nounced the power line’s path, which follows a more northerly route among the numerous lines considered. In addition, three areas of the line were identified where public input is sought, before the route is fully finalized.

Two of the study segments are in Northwest Oklahoma, one north of Enid and the other north of Woodward. The third segment is located east of Pawnee.

On Jan. 19, additional study segments were announced along two alternative paths to connect the project to the electric grid near Tulsa. The routes are located on the far eastern segments of the line route in Pawnee, Creek, Tulsa and Noble counties.

“The alternative routes are being reviewed to prevent delays in the project’s completion and to protect customer benefits from the project,” the company said.

For the various remaining study segments announced this month, six open houses are scheduled to be held to receive public input.

One of the open houses is in Enid on Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. in the grand ballroom at the Central National Bank Center at 301 S. Independence. Woodward’s is Tuesday at Woodward Fairgrounds in Exhibit Hall B, 108 Temple Houston Drive.

The open houses will be set up in a workshop format, where attendees can talk with project team members, review detailed maps and provide input, according to the company. Electrical planners, engineers, routing experts, right-of-way agents and construction representatives will be present to answer questions from attendees, who can come and go since there will be no formal presentation.

For information on the project or the open houses in Pawnee Monday, Glenpool Feb. 5, Bristow Feb. 6 and Cushing Feb. 7, go to http://www.windcatcherenergy.com/.

Solomon said the company filed for approval at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission essentially asking for permission to start construction on the project, and expect to get a decision from the commission by about April 1.

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Miller is the area reporter for the Enid News & Eagle. Follow him on Twitter, @Ryanm_reporter. He can be reached at rmiller@enidnews.com.

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I was born near Denver, later moved to Selah, Washington and then attended the University of Kansas, graduating in May 2017. Prior to Enid News, I interned with the Yakima-Herald Republic and wrote arts and features for the University Daily Kansan.