It's an ad you may have seen running on your TV.

The Wind Catcher Energy Connection Project is already spinning a fair share of controversy over the future of how you may get your electricity and the promises are plentiful.

"The Wind Catcher Energy Connection Project will save SWEPCO customers $4 billion over the 25-year life of the wind farm. It will also bring low cost renewable energy to our area," said SWEPCO spokeswoman Carey Sullivan. 

The Wind Catcher Project was first announced in July by Invenergy and GE Renewable Industry. It involves the construction of a 2,000 megawatt wind farm, powered by 800 GE turbines and all located on the breezy fields of the Oklahoma panhandle. The massive project comes with an equally impressive price tag of $4.5 billion. But it's true impact on customers in the ArkLaTex is up for debate.

"We've heard customers' concerns and we're offering guarantees on the project that includes a cap on construction costs. 100 percent of the federal production tax credits, as well as minimal energy annual energy output from the project. We're demonstrating our commitment and our ability to deliver on Wind Catcher," Sullivan added.

But some say those promises may not be enough. One of the groups opposed to the project are the same ones sponsoring advertisements. Protect Your Pocketbook is a consumer group dedicated to educating power customers on issues like the Wind Catcher Project.

Justin Allen of Protect Your Pocketbook told KTBS, "Protect Your Pocketbook is opposed to the Wind Catcher Project as proposed by SWEPCO. We think that SWEPCO's calculations are based on faulty economic assumptions and that it's going to put the risk solely on consumers and the project could actually lead to higher utility prices."

SWEPCO has estimated the project will save customers more than $4 billion in the 25 years the wind farm will be operated, but those savings won't start until 2021.

Allen added, "there's hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, that's first and foremost. It's important to businesses and individuals. We think it's an important transition phase and again we think it's a good thing that we're working harder and harder on renewables. We have to protect our environment and we have to save money where we can. It's a delicate time and we don't want to take this in the wrong direction, otherwise we may head down a way we can't turn back."

Another person closely watching the development of this project is Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell.

When asked about the project, Campbell said, "I like renewable energy; I like solar power. A lot of the times these big utility companies don't like solar power because they want to sell you all the electricity. Special interest comes in every time and you have to separate that from the people's interest."

Campbell told KTBS his concern lies on how the project will impact customers in the future and warns that some of the groups opposed to it are financially backed anti-wind groups like the Windfall Coalition and Harold Hamm, the CEO of Continental Resources of Oklahoma City. Hamm is also an energy advisor to President Trump.

"I've always been against high utility rates, but I am suspicious of a billionaire oil man who is really raising all this hell about the project. I want to look into that," Campbell added.

Construction of the massive wind farm is expected to happen in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana in the next three years and is set to start spinning in the fourth quarter of 2020. With hundreds of jobs on the line and billions in proposed savings for power customers, many are hoping this controversial project won't blow away in the breeze.

"Generally, I'm in favor of it because it makes good sense, but we want to make sure this project is feasable and that's what we plan on doing. As far as hearing from a guy that's part of a special interest that's spent a lot of money, I want to hear more about it I really do," said Campbell.

This massive project still has to clear several hurdles before it becomes a reality. Right now it's still subject to approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and utility commissions in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.

There's already been a setback in Oklahoma where there's been an official recommendation against pre-approval of the public service commission's request to allow the ratepayers to fund the project.

Stay with KTBS.com for future updates on the Wind Catcher Project.


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