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Backers of renewable energy highlight industry’s growth at Capitol event Tuesday

The Oklahoman | March 4, 2020
Author: Jack Money

The Minco II wind farm, seen in 2016, supplies energy through a power purchase agreement to Google’s Oklahoma servers. A growing demand from Google and other companies to use renewable energy to power their operations continues to grow the industry’s footprint in the state, Oklahoma Power Alliance officials stated Tuesday. [THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES]

Oklahoma’s use of wind energy to generate electricity continues to increase.

A record 40.2% of all state’s generated energy in 2019 was powered by renewable technology, Oklahoma Power Alliance representatives announced Tuesday during a Clean Energy Day at the state Capitol.

In 2018, Oklahoma’s wind farms generated about 36% of the energy created inside the state, up from 33% the previous year.

“This data tells a strong story” about Oklahoma’s continued leadership in renewable energy deployment, Mark Yates, vice president of the Advanced Power Alliance and its policy director in Oklahoma, said Tuesday.

He noted wind’s use to generate electricity in Oklahoma during the year only was surpassed by natural gas, which generated another 46.3%.

The data shows “clean energy is a partner to the state’s abundant power resources of natural gas, hydro, and coal,” Yates said.

Alliance data showed Oklahoma ranked second among U.S. states for 2019 for the amount of energy its wind farms generated, and third for the amount of wind capacity installed.

The alliance estimates more than $20 billion has been invested in renewable projects within the state.

It also issued data showing the industry’s completed wind projects are ranked as a top-three taxpayer in 19 Oklahoma counties and 65 Oklahoma school districts. Projects’ owners made about $51 million in land lease payments to farmers and ranchers throughout 26 of Oklahoma’s counties in 2019.

“These investments continue to transform Oklahoma’s rural economies by offering new career opportunities, circulating new income, creating sales tax revenue, and providing valuable ad valorem,” he said.

Yates also discussed how the growing industry continues to support corporations looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, and in particular mentioned Google and Amazon.

Both companies power their businesses using power purchase agreements with renewable energy operators.

Google, he noted, recently announced another $600 million investment in its data center in Pryor, bringing its total investment in Oklahoma to more than $3 billion.

“Meanwhile, Amazon has broken ground on Tulsa’s upcoming Amazon distribution center that, when complete, will equal a $130 million investment. In Oklahoma City, Amazon has opened a delivery center and is building a similar fulfillment center.”

Officials said more than 80 people representing developers, investors, landowners, manufacturers and suppliers attended Tuesday’s Capitol event, where the alliance recognized public and private officials for their support of renewable energy.

Among those participating was Cole Nelms, an assistant site supervisor at Enel Green Power’s Red Dirt wind farm, a 300-megawatt facility located mostly in northern Kingfisher County.

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