When the utility companies begin investing in wind and solar energy, you know that the struggle for renewable energy has reached the tipping point. The state of oklahoma is not known for its commitment to the environment and sustainability but is set to become the site of the largest Wind Farm in the country. According to Newsok, The Columbus OH-based energy giant American Electric Power Co. (AEP) has just concluded a $4.5 billion deal to buy a wind farm in the Oklahoma panhandle, along with the high-voltage transmission lines needed to bring that power to customers.

Wind and solar make economic sense too

The wind farm will bring energy at reduced costs to customers in the state as well as Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas. Also hopping on board the renewables bandwagon are NextEra Energy Inc., which is building solar farms in Florida and Xcel Energy Inc., investing in wind energy. Part of the reason for this shift is the sharp drop in the cost of wind and solar farms, making new projects cheaper than other types of power generation. When completed, AEP’s Wind Catcher Energy Project will be the largest wind farm in the U.S. The projected completion date is 2020.

As well as reducing energy costs for customers, the project will boost the state’s economy by adding jobs and increasing local tax revenues.

During the construction phase, the project is expected to add 4,000 direct jobs and 4,400 indirect jobs. Once completed, it will employ around 80 people on a full-time basis. The project is expected to generate $300 million in property tax revenues for local schools and counties in the Oklahoma Panhandle area.

All aboard the renewables train

The wind farm will be built by Invenergy. The Chicago based company will also operate it for the first five years. AEP has filed for approval of the Wind Catcher project from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. It will also need approval from Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas regulators and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

AEP is one of the largest generators of electricity in the nation, as well as the largest owner of electricity transmission lines. It has also been one of the leading consumers of coal but has been shutting down its coal burning plants in recent years due to losses. According to a press release from the company, AEP has reduced its CO2 emissions by 44 percent since 2000 and is committed to renewable energy generation, with more projects in the pipeline.