Oklahoma Utility Signs On for Wind Power

OG&E Electric Services has agreed to buy the electrical output from wind turbines planned for construction this year in northwestern Oklahoma, a major step forward for one of the largest public utility wind power initiatives in the United States. Responding to growing interest in power generated from renewable resources, OG&E sought proposals from wind power developers that led to an agreement with FPL Energy LLC of Juno Beach, Fla., which will build and operate the wind farm near Woodward. OG&E expects to offer wind-generated power for sale to its customers beginning early in 2004.

Oklahoma City, June 12, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] OG&E Electric Services has agreed to buy the electrical output from wind turbines planned for construction this year in northwestern Oklahoma, a major step forward for one of the largest public utility wind power initiatives in the United States. Responding to growing interest in power generated from renewable resources, OG&E sought proposals from wind power developers that led to an agreement with FPL Energy LLC of Juno Beach, Fla., which will build and operate the wind farm near Woodward. OG&E expects to offer wind-generated power for sale to its customers beginning early in 2004. “We have made one of the largest wind power commitments in the United States and soon we will give our customers a chance to tell us how much wind power they want,” said Jack Coffman, OG&E senior vice president for power supply. “This will enable us to test the costs and benefits of wind power on our grid in an environment of real supply and demand.” OG&E is in the process of developing pricing options for the wind power, which it expects to announce later this year. Customers will likely be able to choose all or part of their electric service be generated from wind. If approved by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the project will create the largest commercial-scale wind energy facility in Oklahoma, doubling the capacity of FPL’s Oklahoma Wind Energy Center to 102 MW. Plans call for 68 wind turbines spread over a 1,200-acre site near Woodward. FPL, which hold the most installed wind power capacity of 30 facilities in 10 states, will own and operate the generating equipment and OG&E will purchase the output for resale to its Oklahoma customers. Pending Corporation Commission approval of the wind power program, OG&E will actively promote it. OG&E also is interested in offering wind power to its customers in Arkansas, and will work with officials there to establish the necessary regulatory framework. As OG&E develops the specifics of its Oklahoma wind power pricing options, one thing is becoming clear — it is likely to cost a bit more, said OG&E. This is traditionally the case with specific purchases of renewable energy electricity purchases. These slightly higher premiums however haven’t prevented sales of green energy from growing substantially in recent years. Many customers see paying the premium as a dollar vote for sustainable, renewable energy. “Because wind is unpredictable and sometimes insufficient to generate power, wind farms do not replace the traditional generating plants that must always be ready to pick up the power load,” Coffman said. “Wind power provides an opportunity for fuel savings, but infrastructure requirements, development costs and other factors are expected to make it more expensive than the output from our existing fleet of generating plants.” Still, OG&E expects many of its customers to choose wind power in support of this careful first step that lets them decide for themselves.
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