Show Navigation

Wind power’s share of state electricity production grows to 40%

The Journal Record | March 3, 2020
Author: Daisy Creager

Mark Yates, vice president of the Advanced Power Alliance, speaks at the state Capitol Tuesday.
(Photo by Daisy Creager)

OKLAHOMA CITY – In 2019, wind power accounted for 40.2% of Oklahoma’s electricity production for the first time in history, following only natural gas, which accounted for 46.3% of the state’s generation last year, according to the Advanced Power Alliance.

The alliance released updated data about the state’s renewable resources Tuesday for Clean Energy Day at the state Capitol, meeting with state lawmakers about the information and discussing pending legislation that will affect the industry.

The alliance reported that in 2019, Oklahoma ranked second for overall wind power generation and third for installed wind capacity. Wind made up 57% of generator interconnection requests the state receives from within the Southwest Power Pool.

“Those numbers are going to continue (to grow), because we continue to see investment in not just wind in the next year-and-a-half, we also see solar,” said APA Vice President Mark Yates.

Prior to a series of meetings with lawmakers, Yates discussed the report with renewable energy advocates, highlighting important points and contention they may face.

He said that two years ago during Clean Energy Day, a year when the state was facing another consecutive budget deficit, discussions about renewables were contentious. Even now some lawmakers oppose former tax breaks extended to wind, especially with the hurting oil and gas industry and coronavirus hurting the state budget.

Among proposed legislation the APA is following are bills addressing setbacks from private-use airports and standardizing property tax valuations for wind farms. Bills proposed in the House and Senate request that wind farms have a 1.5-mile setback from private airports, an issue Yates has referred to as setting a “dangerous” and “problematic” precedent.

Despite difficult state budget decisions to come and onerous proposed regulations, many lawmakers care about the idea of renewables, Yates said.

“We’re going to get pushback as we get into wind … (but) lawmakers are really excited about solar, they’re really excited about battery storage, but they really want to know more. … It’s really important you educate them,” Yates said.

“I promise you lawmakers don’t all know 40% of these lights are being sourced right now from renewable energy,” he said. “That’s very important that they understand what that means for Oklahoma.”

Advocating further for renewables is important for attracting business to the state, with global corporations like Amazon and Google making significant investments in Oklahoma and signing long-term power purchase agreements with renewable energy producers, the APA said in a press release.

“There’s going to be an abundant benefit of continuing to drive down costs, costs to the consumer, but also small business and big business, it’s an economic tool,” Yates said.

Read more here.

Southern reaches Wildhorse Mountain summit

Energy Central | Feb. 21, 2020

Southern Power has started commercial operations at the 100MW Wildhorse Mountain wind farm in the US state of Oklahoma.

Wildhorse Mountain, which is located in Pushmataha County, comprises 29 Vestas turbines.

The Danish manufacturer will also operate and maintain the facility for Southern Power, with the latter responsible for performing the balance of onsite plant operations.

Electricity and associated renewable energy credits generated by the project are being sold under a 20-year power purchase agreement to Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC).

AECC will have the option to keep or sell the associated RECs.

Southern Power acquired Wildhorse Mountain in May 2018 from RES, which served as the developer and constructor of the site.

Peak construction generated about 250 jobs.

Southern Power chief executive Mark Lantrip said Wildhorse Mountain is our fourth wind project in the state of Oklahoma, and we are pleased to see this project achieve commercial operation.

This additional facility showcases our commitment to the development of wind energy and is an excellent addition to our growing renewable fleet.

Southern Power’s wind portfolio now consists of more than 2058MW and is a part of the company’s 4454MW renewable fleet.

The company has 40 solar and wind facilities operating or under construction.

Read more here.

Southern Power energizes Ouachita Mountains wind farm in southeastern Oklahoma

The Oklahoman | Feb. 12, 2020
Author: Jack Money

Southern Energy’s Wildhorse Mountain Wind Facility, a 100-megawatt project, became operational this week. [PROVIDED BY SOUTHERN POWER]

Wind energy has made its way deep into the heart of Oklahoma’s Little Dixie.

On Tuesday, Southern Power announced that its 100-megawatt Wildhorse Mountain Wind Facility in the Ouachita Mountains in Pushmataha County is operational.

It is the only operating project generating power using wind to be located so far south and east in the state, at least for now — something industry advocates attribute to technological upgrades involving blades and turbines that have made it possible to generate a usable stream of energy at increasingly low wind speeds.

These days, a steady breeze of 3 to 4 miles per hour suffices, opening up southeastern Oklahoma to wind development opportunities that previously weren’t feasible, said Mark Yates, vice president and Oklahoma director of the Advanced Power Alliance.

“Fifteen years ago, you would not have been able to develop a project of this type in southeast Oklahoma,” he said.

The other reason projects are beginning to move into that part of Oklahoma is to escape from congestion-related issues involving the grid covering northern and western parts of the state as additional wind, solar and storage technology projects continue to be designed and built.

Yates said there is about a 2-gigawatt queue of pending wind energy projects across the state, plus another 6 gigawatts of pending solar projects that are in some stage of development.

“Clearly, we have no expectation that everything in the queue will get built,” Yates said, “but we have a lot still to come.”

As for the Wildhorse Mountain project, Southern Power officials said it is selling associated renewable energy credits and the electricity the plant produces for the next 20 years to the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp.

Wildhorse Mountain consists of 29 pole-mounted wind turbines manufactured by Vestas, which Southern Power hired to maintain.

Southern Power acquired the facility in May 2018 from Renewable Energy Systems, the developer that built the project and created 250 jobs at peak construction.

Southern Power officials stated Tuesday the project fits Southern Power’s strategy to acquire and develop projects covered by long-term contracts with counterparties that have strong credit support.

With the addition of Wildhorse Mountain, officials stated Southern Power’s wind portfolio now consists of more than 2 gigawatts, making up nearly half of its 4.5 gigawatts of renewable assets that include more than 40 solar and wind facilities that are operating or under construction.

“Wildhorse Mountain Wind Facility is our fourth wind project in the state of Oklahoma, and we are pleased to see this project achieve commercial operation,” stated Mark Lantrip, Southern Power’s CEO.

“This additional facility showcases our commitment to the development of wind energy and is an excellent addition to our growing renewable fleet.”

Read more here.