The Journal Record | March 3, 2020
Author: 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.
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