OG&E is in the process of acquiring the Shady Point power plant near Poteau from AES Corporation and the Oklahoma Cogeneration plant in Oklahoma City for $53 million.

The power provider seeks preapproval of the acquisitions from regulators in both Oklahoma and Arkansas. About 10 percent of OG&E’s customer base is in west Arkansas. The plants will replace capacity currently provided by power purchase contracts set to expire in 2019. In August OG&E chose to not re-up a power purchase agreement that had existed with AES Corporation since 1991.

Brian Alford, director of communications and public releations for OG&E Energy Corp., said Monday the company did not have plans to purchase Shady Point from AES in August when the power purchase agreement was not renewed.

As OG&E integrates Shady Point into its mix, it intends to change how the plant operates and further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, an OG&E news release states.

"We anticipate operational changes to reduce coal use by more than 50 percent initially, and we'll continue to explore opportunities to reduce costs and emissions not only at Shady Point, but also systemwide,” the OG&E release adds.

Sean Trauschke, OGE Energy Corp. chairman, president and CEO, said in the news release OG&E has completed several “critical projects” to offer customers electric power in “an environmentally responsible way” and the acquisition announcement “builds on that commitment.”

"Our diverse energy portfolio of natural gas, wind, solar and coal gives us the versatility to meet a variety of economic and environmental needs,” Trauschke said. “The result is our electric rates are 29 percent below the national average, which is a driver of economic development."

Shady Point is a 360-megawatt, coal- and natural gas-fired plant that “uses circulating fluidized bed boilers to produce lower emissions due to their design features and emissions controls,” OG&E states.

Oklahoma Cogeneration, owned by Oklahoma Cogeneration LLC, is a 146-megawatt, natural gas-fired, combined-cycle plant. The company will pay approximately $53 million for the two plants, which currently serve OG&E customers.

Wind and solar power plants create about 11 percent of OG&E's electricity.

OG&E expects power plant emissions to be significantly lower from 2005 levels.

"Sulfur dioxide emissions will be lower by nearly 90 percent, nitrogen oxide will be lower by nearly 75 percent and carbon dioxide will be lower by approximately 40 percent," Trauschke aded. "We're among industry leaders in emissions reduction performance. Many of our peer companies are not expected to match this level of emissions reduction for years, if not a decade or more."

Lower emissions are largely attributed to the actions to meet federal Regional Haze mandates, OG&E states. The steps taken include converting two units from coal to natural gas at Muskogee Power Plant; adding two, emissions-reducing scrubbers to coal-fired units at Sooner Power Plant; and modifying burners at several of the company's generation plants.

Customer savings?

The acquisitions are expected to save customers $40 million to $50 million per year and will help mitigate the negative economic impact Shady Point's closure would have had in one of the state's “more challenged regions,” the OG&E release noted. It is estimated the regional economic impact of the loss of the Shady Point plant would have been about $60 million per year.

"With these acquisitions, we believe we've created a win-win solution on multiple fronts," Trauschke said. "Our customers save tens of millions of dollars each year, power plant emissions continue to drop, Shady Point helps maintain grid stability as growth continues in that region, and a vital community avoids a crisis."