Rama Ramakumar, an electrical engineering professor and director of the OSU Engineering Energy Laboratory, said the wind farm is an affirmation of renewable energy research. Ramakumar, who came to OSU in 1967, developed some of the early mathematical models for variable-speed wind generation.
“We are happy that what we advocated 40 years ago has come to fruition,” Ramakumar said. “For a professor or anybody in teaching, the idea is to sow seeds that will grow later on, and that's absolutely true in this case. The students are more and more interested, and my classes have more students than ever before. They're wanting to learn about sustainability and wind energy.”
OSU began exploring alternatives to its customer agreement with OG&E after finding its aging cogeneration plant wouldn't be sufficient to meet future energy needs. The university and OG&E agreed to renegotiate a power contract that expired in 2017.
Under the new contract, OSU will purchase its electricity from OG&E for the next 20 years, with some of the power coming from the Cowboy Wind Farm. OG&E also will build a new substation on the OSU campus. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission approved the contract in March 2012.
The university plans to permanently retire its 1940s-era cogeneration power plant, which can supply up to 8 percent of the campus' electricity needs, but at a higher cost than OG&E electricity. OSU will keep its steam and chiller plants for heating and cooling needs.
The OSU wind farm project generates renewable energy credits at the rate of one credit for each 1,000 kilowatt-hour block of electricity. The credits can be sold or traded and are proof that power was generated from a renewable source.
With the addition of the wind farm and associated renewable energy credits, OSU has surged to fifth place nationally in the Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership rankings of colleges and universities. About 67 percent of OSU's electricity will now qualify for renewable energy credits.
The University of Oklahoma is in sixth place on the EPA list, with 56 percent of its electricity qualifying for renewable energy credits. OU was EPA's Green Power Partner of the Year in 2012, along with the city of Austin, Texas; Microsoft Corp.; and Hilton Worldwide.
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We're using all types of energy production in our state, but wind power and renewable energy are certainly key components.”
Gov. Mary Fallin,