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Nov 11, 2019

Editorial: Oklahoma reshaping the energy landscape

Journal Record | November 11

It was no surprise when oil prices spiked following the unprecedented Sept. 14 attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure.

But the spike in oil prices was short-lived, illustrating how times have changed since the ’90s and early 2000s. The difference between then and now is the growing diversity in energy supplies and the growth of disruptive technologies that will continue to reshape the energy landscape.

Oklahoma and the energy companies doing business here have played a starring role in this transformation, a paradigm shift some have described as the new energy world order.

In the past, an attack on oil infrastructure in the Middle East would have led to months of high petroleum prices in a global market then controlled by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC.

The United States has since replaced Saudi as the world’s largest oil producer, becoming the world’s swing supplier of oil.  Thanks to horizontal drilling, fracking and other innovations in oil and gas production, the greater Americas now has the reserves and capacity to calm markets amid unexpected crises.

But greater diversity in oil and gas supplies is just part of the unprecedented transformation of the energy industry. Equally important is the increasing penetration of renewable power.

Consider this eye-opening statistic. One day last month, wind power production in the Southwest Power Pool – the grid stretching across 14 states, including Oklahoma – reached 17,264 megawatts. That’s more than 60% of the region’s electricity output.

Such a milestone was not thought possible at the turn of the century, when most experts quickly dismissed renewable power and energy storage, saying they were too expensive, unproven and too difficult to integrate into a grid built around coal. Oklahoma has the third-largest amount of installed wind power capacity behind Texas and Iowa.

Oklahoma is leading in another major component of this energy revolution. Oklahoma’s charging station network for electric vehicles is the nation’s best, said Mark Faulkenberry, vice president of marketing for Western Farmers Electric Cooperative.

“It’s geographically planned so you can drive across the state,” he said. “You can go from Hochatown to Guymon and never be without a charging station.”

The company behind the state’s massive charging station build-out is Francis Renewable Energy. Thanks to a $50 million investment, Oklahoma drivers are never more than 50 miles from a charging station, well within the range of today’s EVs.

These drivers of change were pipe dreams 20 years ago. Imagine what the next 20 years will bring. It’s hard to know, but we’re certain Oklahoma innovators will be leading the way.

Read more here.