Energy companies blown away by wind
September 15, 2006 - Adam Wilmoth - The Oklahoman
Oklahoma’s power companies continue to convert one
of the state’s most abundant resources into environmentally-friendly
Construction is under way at Oklahoma Gas and Electric
Co.’s Centennial Wind Energy Project near Woodward,
which promises to more than triple the company’s wind
offering. The first of the new turbines are expected
to become operational early next month, and the project
is scheduled for completion by the end of the year.
“Wind in Oklahoma has been a huge success,” OG&E spokesman
Brian Alford said. “It’s something our customers told
us they want. They like having that option and we’re
excited to be able to bring more to our system.”
for wind energy appears to still be growing. The state’s
four major electric companies said they are considering
more projects in the future, although no formal plans
have been announced.
“There is a lot of buzz going
on in western Oklahoma with different companies,”
said Stephanie Buway, a graduate research assistant
for the Oklahoma Wind Power Initiative. “I foresee
an increase in demand. More and more people are seeing
these wind farms, and more and more people are wanting
them on their land, not only for the economic benefit,
but also for the environment.”
As more projects have
sprouted across the state, landowners have become
more willing to have the turbines on their land, Buway
said. Many now seek out the projects.
“More and more
people I talk to say they are beautiful,” Buway said.
“They welcome them.”
All four of the state’s major
electric utilities buy electricity from local wind
farms. The state’s three wind farms generate a capacity
of 475 megawatts, making Oklahoma the No. 5 wind energy
producer in the country.
OG&E’s newest project is
a 120-megawatt facility near an existing wind farm
that already provides 51 megawatts of power to the
state’s largest electric company.
other wind projects, OG&E plans to own and operate
the Centennial Wind Energy Project.
Even though demand
is strong for windgenerated and other forms of renewable
energy, other factors may make construction more difficult,
said Drake Rice, director of member services at the
Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority.
“The price of
wind turbines has gone up substantially because of
the interest,” he said. “There is a site available
at our current wind farm for additional turbines,
but the price of the turbines has increased substantially,
making it no longer cost efficient.”
Besides the higher
cost of wind power equipment, natural gas prices have
fallen during the past seven months, reducing some
of the economic benefits of wind-generated electricity.
Rice, however, said the authority is looking into
the possibility of adding more wind power at some
point in the future, if such a move would be cost
The state’s electric cooperatives report
a similar situation.
“Wind power has been a good thing
for our customers, the environment and our local economies,”
said Carl Liles, director of enterprise management
for Western Farmers Electric Cooperative. “Officially,
I can’t say yes or no or when, but I think you will
see some more wind on our system as our system grows
and we learn how to integrate it into our generation
Public Service Co. of Oklahoma, the state’s
wind power leader, said it likely will expand its
system in the future. PSO has nearly 300 megawatts
of power coming from its wind farms near Weatherford
“We have our eyes open,” spokesman Stan
Whiteford said. “At some point, this state will reach
a point of saturation. We don’t know what that is
yet, but we have a feeling that it’s not close. We
feel there is room for more wind energy resources
and are looking for opportunities as they arise. At
this point, we don’t have anything to announce, but
I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point we do have