Oklahoma's pro-business climate and excellent wind resource have helped to attract wind developers from across the country and the globe.
Wind Energy in Oklahoma
Michael Teague, Secretary of Energy and Environment | State of Oklahoma
What makes Oklahoma a great state to do business in for wind energy?
Oklahoma is a leader in actually walking the walk when it comes to implementing an “all-of-the-above” energy policy. Known globally as an oil and gas giant, Oklahoma is also blessed with an abundant wind resource. We are an energy state.
Over the past couple of years Oklahoma has rapidly diversified its power portfolio and with almost 4,000 MW of wind generation currently in operation or under construction, the state has established itself one of America’s wind energy leaders.
According to the Oklahoma Wind Power Initiative (OWPI), a research and resource partnership between the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma has about 2.3 times more wind energy potential per square mile than Texas. The Southwest Power Pool, a regional transmission organization, offers a similar forecast and expects its 8-state region to produce 8,500 MW of wind power, with more than half coming from Oklahoma, between 2020 and 2025.
In 2010, the Oklahoma Legislature passed the Oklahoma Energy Security Act, establishing a statewide goal that 15 percent of the total installed generation capacity be derived from renewable sources by 2015. Oklahoma has already surpassed this goal well ahead of schedule.
Private investments in transmission infrastructure upgrades throughout Oklahoma have been key to the state meeting its renewable energy goal ahead of time. Recently, Clean Line Energy Partners' planned high-voltage, direct-current transmission line from the Oklahoma Panhandle to Tennessee was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and will help future wind development by providing reliable access to electricity markets across the country. The Plains and Eastern Clean Line project will link wind farms in the Panhandle to utilities in the southeastern United States where wind resources are scarce.
Oklahoma is home to some of the next major advancements within the wind industry. For example the first three direct-drive wind turbines installed in the United States can be found in the state. This technology, developed by Siemens Energy, will improve cost and reliability of turbines both onshore and offshore and is viewed as the next major advancement within the wind industry. Rated at 3 megawatts of capacity, these direct-drive wind turbines are more compact than generators that use a gearbox and are efficient at low wind speeds. The Siemens direct-drive technology has a permanent magnet attached to the rotor, which connects directly to a generator, thus eliminating the need for a gearbox, a costly component that has historically experienced many technical problems.
A growing global presence
The state is today home to some major European wind companies including Siemens Energy, Acciona and Vestas. In February 2012, Siemens Energy opened a components facility in Woodward, OK that will serve as a technical training hub for its entire southwest region business and employ over 40 people.
Supply Chain Capacity
There are more than 500 Oklahoma companies equipped and ready to supply products to wind turbine manufacturers.
According to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, Oklahoma's employment in potential wind-component manufacturing industries grew 3.9% between 2006 and 2007. Oklahoma experienced this increase during a time when wind-component manufacturing decreased nationally by 3.4%.
So from castings, machining, bearings, and gears to forges, fabrications, and suspended climbing systems, your potential suppliers are right here in Oklahoma.
Data Centers are coming to OK to benefit from its wind power
Technology and financial companies such as Google and HP are establishing data centers in Oklahoma to take advantage of the affordable and clean energy that can easily be found in the state; where the average industrial price is 5.46 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared to a national average of 6.82 cents, according to the Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services. The state offers companies the ability to tap into a diverse and reliable base of energy sources to power these centers.
Search engine giant Google Inc. in 2011 signed a deal for wind power from the Grand River Dam Authority to help power the its data center in Pryor, OK. Additional wind power will come from the Canadian Hills Wind Farm located north of Calumet, OK.
What has contributed to the success to date for Oklahoma wind?
Unique partnership opportunities exist in Oklahoma due to the weather know-how found in the state. The knowledge capital found at the National Weather Center and the University of Oklahoma’s Weathersphere in Norman, OK and the over 38 weather forecasting companies that have spun out of or have partnered with OU, make Oklahoma the ideal location for wind companies seeking to determine capacity and predict wind velocities for future wind tower construction.
Also Oklahoma's pro-business attitude and nationally-recognized incentive program means its ready to do business with renewable energy companies. Oklahoma's business incentive program offers a choice of up to 5% cash back quarterly of new taxable payroll (Quality Jobs) or a tax credit on investment or new jobs (Investment/New Jobs Tax Credit). Additionally, a 5-Year Ad Valorem Property Tax Exemption is available for qualifying manufacturing companies.
Is the state support focused on wind energy for distributed or utility scale projects?
Oklahoma has a long standing statute in place allowing for net metering of projects up to 100kw in size. This policy has been utilized for multiple projects across the state, from powering waste water treatment facilities to helping small towns with their water pumps. The wind resource that Oklahoma provides is second to none in the country, making distributed scale projects more feasible than in many other areas. Still, it is the utility scale generation that holds the best opportunity for wind development in Oklahoma. Oklahoma’s wind resource coupled with our business friendly environment lead to competitive pricing for wind projects that benefit not only Oklahoma’s residents, but residents in other states as Oklahoma’s wind power is being sold to utilities out of state.
Which parts of the state are best for wind farm projects to be located and how is this being determined?
Western Oklahoma is home to the best wind resource from a meteorological standpoint. The geography of western Oklahoma lends itself to providing ample wind resources on a consistent basis. This is where the majority of wind projects are located to date, with a core concentration of projects around the northwest region of the state. As wind technology evolves to better capture wind at lower wind speeds, this will enable the eastern part of Oklahoma to be just as productive for wind generation as the western regions of the state.
What does the future hold for wind power in Oklahoma?
Oklahoma was one of the first states to utilize wind power as a commodity energy resource and sell the energy to a utility located out of state. Oklahoma companies are moving forward with several initiatives to develop the transmission infrastructure needed by its rapidly emerging renewable energy industry.
- Horizon Transmission LLC, a joint venture between OGE Energy Corp. and Electric Transmission America, is constructing high-capacity transmission projects in Western Oklahoma.
- The Oklahoma Corporation Commission allows utilities to recover costs for wind-power transmission and has granted ITC Great Plains and The Plains & Eastern Clean Line (P&ECL) public utility status, which will enable them to build and maintain transmission lines in Oklahoma. P&ECL is currently building a $14 billion “Clean Line” that will connect 7,000 megawatts of clean energy generated in Western Oklahoma, South West Kansas and the Texas Panhandle to Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Arkansas and other southeastern markets. The renewable energy that will be transported through approximately 800-mile overhead HVDC transmission lines will help power over two million homes. During a Request of Information for projects opened in 2013 by Clean Line Energy Partners, 15 wind developers responded with over 16,000 MW of wind projects in the region that would be able to fill the proposed 3,500 MW capacity line.
- Governor Fallin’s 2011 Oklahoma First Energy Plan supports increased transmission investments to connect Oklahoma wind power to load centers. The plan also calls for the wind and gas industries to work together on integrated power development in which gas-fired power plants, which can be up and running quickly, back up variable wind power.
What barriers to wind development is Oklahoma facing, and what is the state doing to address them?
As wind projects continue to grow in number across the state, project siting and regulation becomes an ever increasing concern for responsible project development. Oklahoma’s pro-business climate and excellent wind resource have helped to attract wind developers from across the country and the globe. State policies directly impact growing industries like the wind industry, so it’s important that we consider all aspects of siting, decommissioning and notice requirements for wind project developers.
In light of this, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission has recently opened a Notice of Inquiry, a non-binding proceeding, to fully examine existing or potentially necessary requirements in the state. The wind industry is well known for its experience in being proactive in responsible project development practices even when formalized regulations and provisions are not in place. Still, landowners want to know that the wind industry is doing what it can for responsible wind project development. We look forward to participating in the NOI along with industry and other stakeholders.
For any additional information about Oklahoma and wind investment opportunities that exist there please visit www.okcommerce.gov
Michael Teague is serving as Oklahoma’s first secretary of Energy and Environment.
Prior to his appointment, Teague served in the U.S. Army for nearly 30 years before retiring with the rank of Colonel.
Teague served in many capacities during his time in the Army including commander for the Tulsa District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers where he was responsible for a civil works program encompassing all of Oklahoma, a large portion of southern Kansas and the panhandle of northern Texas. He oversaw over 700 employees in engineering, construction and operations, as well as an annual budget of $700 million.
Throughout his career, Teague has dealt with power generation and distribution, water desalinization, and environmental impact studies. He has facilitated and negotiated numerous solutions regarding federal and state agencies, tribes, and local stakeholders and has acted as a liaison between the Tulsa District and the United States Congress.
Teague also served in operational assignments in Germany, Honduras, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and numerous stateside duty stations. He deployed several times to the Middle East and central Asia including commanding the 52nd Engineer Battalion in Mosul, Iraq in support of the 101st Airborne Division as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
Teague received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Norwich University. He also received master’s degrees in operations analysis from the Naval Postgraduate School and in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College.
The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag
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