Major Oklahoma utilities plan to supply 10 percent of their electricity from turbines

Published: Friday, February 6, 2009 7:00 am By: Randy Ellis

The Oklahoman

Public Service Co. of Oklahoma Thursday announced it has signed long-term agreements to buy about 198 megawatts of wind energy from two new wind farms planned for western Oklahoma.

The announcement means Oklahoma's two largest electric utilities, PSO and OG&E Energy Corp., each soon expect to pass a major milestone by generating more than 10 percent of their electrical power from renewable wind energy.

"As the state's largest provider of wind power, PSO is proud to bring even more clean, renewable energy to our Oklahoma customers," said Stuart Solomon, PSO president and chief operating officer.

"Wind energy is an increasingly important part of our portfolio and with these purchases, energy from wind resources will represent a significant portion of our energy mix," Solomon said.

Locations chosen
PSO's new agreements call for it to purchase 98.9 megawatts of power from a wind farm to be constructed 10 miles west of Elk City by NextEra Energy Resource (formerly FPL Energy), and 99 megawatts from an expansion of Horizon Wind Energy's Blue Canyon facilities, located north of Lawton.

Both sites are expected to be online by Dec. 31, officials said, adding that purchase of the new wind energy will not result in higher prices for utility customers.

PSO already has contracts to buy 392.7 megawatts of wind energy, so the addition of 197.9 megawatts of new wind energy will give the utility 590.6 megawatts of wind energy capacity.

One megawatt represents enough energy to supply the needs of about 250 to 300 homes, said Stan Whiteford, PSO spokesman.

"When the two new wind farms are up and running, we should have wind energy supplying about 11 percent of our power," Whiteford said. "I would not be surprised if the trend continues."

PSO has 4,400 megawatts of generating capacity fueled by coal and gas, he said.

PSO serves about 525,000 customers in eastern and southwestern Oklahoma.

OG&E's role in wind
OG&E, like PSO, is increasingly turning to wind power.

OG&E currently receives about 170 megawatts of power from wind energy, but is working on a project with the University of Oklahoma to add 100 megawatts of wind energy by late 2009 or early 2010. That wind energy would supply the Norman campus with power, said Brian Alford, OG&E spokesman.

The company currently has a request for proposals out to supply an additional 300 megawatts of wind energy and may soon issue another request for proposals to add as much as an additional 300 megawatts of wind energy on top of that, he said.

When all those plans are combined, it means OG&E could be using wind power for about 870 megawatts of power by 2012 or so, Alford said.

The company currently has a little over 6,000 megawatts of generating capacity, he said.

Alford said OG&E, like most utilities, will be looking to the new political administration for recommendations on the development of wind energy.

Alford said he has seen projections where OG&E would be relying on wind energy for as little as 10 percent to more than 20 percent of its power needs in five to 10 years.

The utility is moving forward with plans to construct high voltage transmission lines between northwestern Oklahoma and Oklahoma City to speed development of wind energy as a viable resource, he said.

OG&E serves about 755,000 customers in Oklahoma and western Arkansas.

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