This blog entry was written by Allie Brown, former Clean Energy Advocacy Manager at SACE.Guest Blog | June 30, 2016
Earlier this week, Gulf Power filed a petition requesting that the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) approve an additional 94 megawatts of wind energy generation into its portfolio from the Kingfisher Wind farm in Oklahoma.
Gulf Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company and one of the smallest investor-owned electric utilities in Florida, is already the leading purchaser of wind energy in Florida. In January of this year, Gulf Power began delivering 178 megawatts of wind energy to its customers from the original Kingfisher Wind project. If this new request is approved, the utility will have a total of 272 megawatts of wind energy in its energy portfolio – enough to power 77,150 homes a year!
With the combination of these wind energy contracts and the three utility-scale military solar projects announced last year and under construction in North Florida, Gulf Power is projected to obtain nine percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources. This announcement firmly places Gulf Power, a company with mere 447,000 customers, as a leader in Florida in the proportional increase in clean, renewable energy relative to its size.
Because there is no fuel cost associated with wind energy, utilities can secure long-term contracts (~20-25 years) to lock in prices and protect their customers from price spikes due to volatile fossil fuel costs. Purchasing wind power is becoming a trend among Southern utilities made possible by extremely affordable wind power in the Midwest. With the approval of the 94 megawatt wind power deal, Southern Company utilities (including Gulf Power, Georgia Power, and Alabama Power) are just shy of securing one gigawatt of wind power.
We hope this trend continues for wind in the South, with proposals for new long-distance transmission lines like the proposed Plains and Eastern Clean Line project (shown in image to the right) and Pattern’s Southern Cross Line, Gulf Power will have the opportunity to connect Florida customers with even more low-cost wind power from the midwest and Texas.
Agreements like the new Kingfisher wind contract can deliver clean, renewable energy to the state of Florida and bring tremendous value to ratepayers.
While SACE applauds Gulf Power’s announcement to continue investing in affordable long-term wind power contracts, we encourage the utility to take better advantage of renewables in Florida – including the tremendous solar potential that the Sunshine State has to offer. Additionally, new wind turbine technology now makes wind energy development within Florida feasible.