Oklahoma continues to hold high wind production marks in latest industry report

Source: By Jack Money, The Oklahoman • Posted: Monday, April 23, 2018

The Frontier wind farm in Kay County, built by Duke Energy Renewables, was among those becoming operational in Oklahoma during 2017. [Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman Archives]

Oklahoma is among four states in the nation where wind generated at least 30 percent of the electricity produced inside its borders during in 2017, an industry update released this week reported.

An annual report published by the American Wind Energy Association for 2017 shows that Oklahoma and Kansas, Iowa and South Dakota achieved that mark for the year.

The report also showed Oklahoma still ranks second in the nation for its 7,495 megawatts electricity generating capacity provided through wind farms, led only by Texas, which has 22,599 megawatts.

The report said that the electrical generating capacity of wind farms grew by 9 percent nationally in 2017.

In Oklahoma, it grew by nearly 13 percent, adding 850 megawatts to its 6,645 megawatts electrical generating capacity operational at the end of 2016.

The report also estimates that at least 8,000 Oklahomans were employed by the wind industry in 2017.

Nationally, the association reports that 7,017 megawatts of capacity in the form of new wind projects were added to bring installed wind power capacity to 88,973 megawatts.

The association said there were just less than 54,000 wind turbines operating in 41 states, Guam and Puerto Rico at the end of 2017, which it said is enough installed capacity to power 27 million American homes.

In a news conference held in New Mexico this week, Tom Kiernan, the association’s chief executive, said the sustained growth continues to show that wind energy is “powering forward” to deliver clean, reliable electricity to the nation.

“We are on our way to producing 10 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2020,” Kiernan said. “There is nothing alternative about wind energy, today.”

Mark Yates, Oklahoma director of the Wind Coalition, said this week he agreed the industry has made significant strides in growing its generating capacity, especially inside the state’s borders.

“Wind was responsible for about 33 percent of the electricity generated inside Oklahoma in 2017, and it is truly a remarkable story for an industry that, just a decade ago, was in its beginning, developmental stages.”

Yates said Oklahoma not only boasts an impressive wind portfolio, but also continues to produce a significant amount of natural gas that can be paired with wind power to provide reliable, affordable electricity.

Oklahoma, he noted, needs to turn its attention in the future to heavily recruiting potential users of the energy to locate within the state.

“We can offer the energy that Fortune 500 companies around the United States desire,” he said. “We should recruit as many off-takers and manufacturing plants to Oklahoma, as possible.”