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Nov 2, 2019

Local event highlights energy production, conservation efforts

The Norman Transcript | November 2

Oklahoma has the cleanest and most affordable energy in the country, the state’s energy secretary said Friday.

“The governor likes to talk about becoming a Top 10 state as an aspiration, and we can say together proudly that Oklahoma is a Top 10 state in energy,” Oklahoma Energy Secretary Kenneth Wagner said. “We are No. 3 in natural gas production, No. 4 in oil production, in the Top 3 of any category of wind production, in the Top 10 in renewables, No. 1 in affordability and today we are going to be No. 1 or in the Top 3 in electric vehicle infrastructure charging ability in the network that is unveiled today.”

Western Farmers Electric Cooperative held an event Friday at the Embassy Suites in Norman to spotlight why MYEV.com named Oklahoma the No. 1 state to own an electric vehicle.

Friday’s event was the finale of the cooperative’s Plug In to Win initiative, which was a year-long promotion of electric vehicles during member cooperatives’ annual meetings. Fifteen finalists from the cooperative’s service territory were included in a drawing for $5,000. Shawnee resident Carma Morris, a member of Canadian Valley Electric Cooperative, won the check.

Oklahoma is one of four states in the country to get more than 40% of its power from renewable sources, Wagner said.

People don’t tend to understand that, he said, because Oklahoma has been painted with the perception of a state with traditional fossil energy, but that’s not the case. Oklahoma produces more power than it uses and sends the additional power to neighboring states.

Renewable energy sources comprise 47% of Oklahoma’s power structure, which makes the state a leader in emission reduction, Wagner said.

“We have reduced our ozone precursors in sulfur dioxide by nearly 60% and nitrous oxide nearly 70%, and I dare say that those numbers are understated,” Wagner said. “We bare a disproportionate amount of emissions in Oklahoma, because we send our power to our neighbors.”

For Oklahomans to be part of the electric vehicle world, Wagner said it requires freedom of movement and vehicles Oklahomans want. All of that is possible due to Francis Energy’s partnership with companies and cities to add 110 charging stations in Oklahoma, he said.

Gary Roulet, CEO of Western Farmers Electric Cooperative, said these initiatives present Oklahoma with the opportunity to bring the electric vehicle technology to rural Oklahoma at the same time as urban areas. This is a technology that will benefit everyone in the state by creating more jobs and putting money back into consumers’ pockets, he said.

Ford Motor Co. is investing $11 billion in electric vehicles through 2022, said Tony Gratson, national government sales manager for Ford Motor Company. Next year the company will unveil an F-150 hybrid and in a few years an all-electric F-150 will come online, he said.

Ford also plans to bring electric vehicles into a variety of vehicle line segments, he said. On Nov. 17, Ford will unveil the first Ford battery electric vehicle.

At the end of this year, Francis Energy will have installed 110 electric vehicle charging stations in Oklahoma. Every 50 miles, an electric vehicle driver will have access to a fast charging system that has wi-fi capabilities and individual addresses in case someone has something delivered while they wait, said David Jankowsky, CEO of Francis Energy LLC. The company partnered with the city to install five new stations that will be located across Norman.

“This is the first comprehensive statewide network in the country, and when it’s done at the end of this year the Francis network will be the third largest network in the country and we are going to be number one next year,” Jankowsky said.

Francis Energy is trying to solve a massive problem before it starts, Jankowsky said. By 2035, 50% of all cars sold in America will be electric. This is a problem that exists in the state and nation, he said, and the goal is to incentivize companies like Ford, Nissan, Tesla and Chevy to sell electric vehicles in Oklahoma.

The charging stations will not be perfect, he said, and Francis Energy will continue to seek public feedback.

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