This blog was written by Simon Mahan, former Energy Policy Manager at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.Guest Blog | March 13, 2017
Just over 6,600 megawatts of installed wind power capacity exists in the Sooner State – enough to meet about 25% of the state’s annual electricity needs – more than what coal provides. Oklahoma installed nearly 2,000 megawatts in 2016 alone. By the end of the year, Oklahoma became third in the nation for the most wind power installed.
Just a couple weeks ago, Oklahoma’s regional grid operator (the Southwest Power Pool, or SPP) reached a record wind power penetration level: at one point, the entire region generated 52% of its electricity from wind power. SPP is eyeing perhaps 75% wind energy penetration levels in the long-term, in part because wind is so gosh darn cheap. A Lawrence Berkeley National Lab study found wind power purchase agreements at or below two cents per kilowatt-hour ($0.02/kWh) out of the interior part of the country. An independent analysis from Lazard Associates confirms sub-two cent wind power levelized costs. At the end of last year, Oklahoma had the lowest average electricity prices in the country. And according to the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce, wind farms are expected to provide $1 billion in local property tax revenue.
A number of electric companies in the south are already purchasing wind power from Oklahoma, and the surrounding area. Gulf power recently announced the purchase of 180 MW of wind energy generated from the state. Additionally Georgia Power gets 250 MW from Oklahoma, while Alabama Power receives 404 MW from Oklahoma and Kansas. We hope this is the beginning of a new trend for wind in the South, with proposals for new long-distance transmission lines like the Plains and Eastern Clean Line project, electric companies in the south will have the opportunity to connect their ratepayers with even more low-cost wind power from Oklahoma and surrounding areas.
So if you’re a state lawmaker looking for some new sources of revenue, or an electric company looking for ways to reduce your ratepayers bills, or a major commercial or industrial user in search of a low-cost power solution, wind power is the way to go! And if you’re from Oklahoma, don’t tax the wind!