CADDO PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – SWEPCO has announced plans to add 72.5 megawatts (MW) of solar energy within the next two years through a power purchase agreement with a company that will build and operate the first utility-scale solar farm in Caddo Parish.

The utility says the Rockin R Energy project will generate enough to power 12,000 homes for a year and support its long-term plan of increasing its use of more clean energy sources, such as solar and wind.

Rockin R Energy is an affiliate of New York-based D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments (DESRI).

If approved by state and federal regulators, the solar farm will be located about 20 miles north of Shreveport, near Hosston. SWEPCO says will help fulfill its commitment made to the Louisiana Public Service Commission in May 2020 to pursue up to 200 MWs of solar generation in its service territory.

“That’s what I really like about this generation facility is the fuel never runs out,” SWEPCO President and Chief Operating Officer Malcolm Smoak said. “We are very excited about because it is going to be beneficial to our customers, and it is going to be the first solar project in Northwest Louisiana. It’s going to be SWEPCO’s first solar project as well.”

SWEPCO already generates 810 MW of wind energy from its North Central Energy Facilities in Oklahoma and 469 MW of wind energy under PPAs. Two of the North Central facilities began commercial operation in 2021, and the third is expected to begin commercial operation in early 2022.

Now, SWEPCO has agreed to purchase power from Rockin R Energy at a fixed rate for 20 years, with an option to purchase the facility after 10 years.

“The fixed price supply of clean energy, which is unaffected by fluctuations in fuel prices, is a significant benefit to SWEPCO customers,” Smoak said in a statement announcing the deal. “Rocking R will provide SWEPCO customers with reasonably priced renewable energy and savings compared to other generation and supply options over the length of the power purchase agreement.”

Customers also will have the option to purchase Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). Revenue from the REC sales will offset fuel costs for all SWEPCO customers.

In addition to the advantages renewable energy offers, both the utility and the DESRI touted the economic benefits of the project.

“Our DESRI team is pleased to partner with SWEPCO to deliver cost-effective clean power to their customers across Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas,” said Hy Martin, chief development officer of DESRI. “This solar project will deliver economic development benefits to Caddo Parish and the surrounding communities for years to come.”

SWEPCO is seeking approval for the project from the Louisiana Public Service Commission. The proposal is also subject to review by the Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The utility says regulatory filings in Texas will be made at a later date.

“This project is needed because we have some capacity needs. In other words, we have an obligation to serve our customers, and this is a generated facility that will help us meet that need and obligation,” Smoak said.

“This facility will be one of our many generation facilities, and it will help supply power during those winter storms because they would still function despite the snow and the wind.”

If approved, the solar farm is expected to be up and running by Dec. 1, 2024.