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Aug 19, 2019

Business ViewPoint: Oklahoma is a leader in Nation’s clean energy revolution

By Mark Yates, Vice President, Advanced Power Alliance

Mark Yates, Vice President, Advanced Power Alliance

An energy revolution is underway, and Oklahoma is leading the nation in clean, cheap homegrown power.

In only 15 years, Oklahoma has successfully recruited more than $20 billion in investment from the wind and solar power industry. Wind energy already meets 36% of Oklahoma’s daily electrical needs, sustaining jobs and investing millions in school districts and rural communities across our state.

We are there. We are a leader. And we’re just getting started.

As a central location in the United States, Oklahoma is the heart of the wind corridor. We are now No. 2 in the Nation for wind energy generation, and more investment is already in advanced stages of development.

With 56 wind farms stretching across 26 counties in western Oklahoma, the wind industry is a boon to our stagnant, rural economy. Landowners are now the recipients of $51 million in land lease payments every year and growing. In turn, ranchers have expanded operations, acquired more land, bought more equipment, raised more cattle, planted more seed, hired more hands and exported more commodities on behalf of the state of Oklahoma.

But the positive economic impact is being realized in Tulsa and across northeast Oklahoma through the successful attraction of mega-employers seeking access to abundant renewable power sources. Global corporations are signing long-term power purchase agreements with renewable energy producers to transition business operations to 100% clean energy.

Two of the visionary corporations at the forefront of U.S. renewable energy revolution are Google and Amazon, both of which are making significant capital investments in Oklahoma.

The Google Data Center in Pryor recently announced another $600 million investment in its facility. This expansion brings the company’s total investment to more than $3 billion and more than 500 employees.

Amazon has broken ground on Tulsa’s upcoming Amazon Distribution Center that, when complete, will equal a $130 million investment and represent 1,500 new jobs. In Oklahoma City, Amazon has opened a delivery center and is building a similar fulfillment center.

Kimberly-Clark recently expanded its pledge to power the company’s North American mills with renewable energy. A major employer in Jenks, Kimberly-Clark announced in March its $120 million investment to expand its facility and add more than 50 full-time jobs.

An Oklahoma wind farm made its nationwide debut during the Super Bowl when it was featured in Anheuser-Busch’s famous advertisements touting Budweiser is brewed with 100% renewable energy.

The impact of the national renewable energy revolution is also evident in everyday shopping among corporations such as Walmart, Target, Starbucks, Gap, Nike and Apple.

Even Oklahoma’s famous oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens announced he is swapping out one of its crude investment stock options for renewables, seeing an opportunity to transition stocks to a “low-carbon” economy.

Our state is known for “the best wind in the world,” and now that we have harnessed its power and reaped its economic benefits, we must continue to diversify our energy portfolio. Next, Oklahoma has significant opportunities on the horizon through the development of solar energy and the growing power storage industry.

Together, with our natural and abundant resources in wind, solar, hydro and natural gas, Oklahoma holds incredible potential to lead our Nation’s energy revolution with perpetual and infinite power sources.

This Business ViewPoint appeared in the Work & Money section of the Tulsa World on Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019.

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