June 06, 2023
AEP, PSO Help Land Enel North America's $1 Billion Investment in Oklahoma
American Electric Power’s efforts to bring growth and opportunity to the communities we serve is paying off in the nation’s heartland where Public Service Company of Oklahoma played a major role in the biggest economic development project in Oklahoma history.
Enel North America (3Sun USA, LLC) recently announced plans to build a $1 billion facility to manufacture solar cells and panels at Tulsa Port of Inola, a 2,500 acre industrial park east of Tulsa. It will be one of the largest solar panel manufacturing sites in North America once complete.
The plant is expected to be constructed by the third quarter of 2024, and the company plans to begin operations at the facility by the end of 2024. The plant is expected to create 1,000 new, permanent jobs with the potential for 900 additional jobs in a second phase of development.
“The positive impact of this project will build prosperity in the community and across the state for years,” said PSO President and Chief Operating Officer Leigh Anne Strahler. “This success results from months of hard work and cooperation by state leaders and economic development professionals, and PSO was happy to be an integral part of that team.”
This investment in the Tulsa area required cooperation from various stakeholders. AEP’s Economic Development Quality Sites initiative also was a key factor in sealing the deal.
For decades, PSO owned the more than 2,000 acres that is now the Port of Inola. In 2014, the company began a stringent, 18-month site certification process and started marketing the location for high-impact economic development projects.
In 2019, PSO transferred the Inola site to Tulsa Ports for economic development projects. Under the agreement, PSO continues to be the energy provider to companies locating on the land. Enel is the first big prospect to locate under Ports management.
The Inola location checked all the boxes for Enel and its site consultants, said Garrett Wright, economic and business development manager – PSO. The land was “project-ready” for a large industrial user due to the years of investments made by AEP, PSO, and other economic development partners.
PSO’s established record of reliability and its strong renewable energy position also were important in the effort, he said.
“With PSO involved, Enel knew it would have the electricity it needed for the project and that they can be 100% renewable from day one,” Wright said.
The Enel announcement “sets the stage” for great things in Oklahoma, Wright said.
“We’ve proven Oklahoma can compete on major economic development projects,” he said. “This will open the eyes of site-location consultants and companies: They need to be looking at Oklahoma for their next economic development project.”
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