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Oklahoma is ahead of schedule in renewable energy goal, officials say

New wind projects have pushed the state's renewable energy goal higher than the 15 percent target set for 2015.
by Paul Monies Published: March 8, 2013
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/articleid/3763499/1/pictures/1975622">Photo - Search engine giant Google Inc. has signed a deal for wind power from the Grand River Dam Authority to help power the Google data center in Pryor. The wind will come from the Canadian Hills Wind Farm under construction north of Calumet. Photo By Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman Archives
Search engine giant Google Inc. has signed a deal for wind power from the Grand River Dam Authority to help power the Google data center in Pryor. The wind will come from the Canadian Hills Wind Farm under construction north of Calumet. Photo By Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman Archives

Oklahoma Secretary of Energy Mike Ming said Oklahoma's renewable energy goal works better for the state than a mandate. A combination of wind resources, federal tax credits and planning for future transmission all helped boost renewable energy development in the state, he said.

Ming credited planning at the regional grid operator, the Southwest Power Pool, and the construction of an Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. transmission line from Woodward to central Oklahoma as key parts in meeting the goal ahead of time.

“Not only can we build projects economically — and getting more so all the time — but those projects can get their power injected into the grid,” Ming said. “The SPP (Southwest Power Pool) planning process put us way ahead.”

Ming said Clean Line Energy Partners' planned high-voltage, direct-current transmission line from the Oklahoma Panhandle to Tennessee will help future wind development, too. The Plains and Eastern Clean Line project would link wind farms in the Panhandle to utilities in the southeastern United States where wind resources are scarce.

“The Clean Line project could export a whole lot of power out of the Panhandle, which is kind of an untapped resource right now because the infrastructure hasn't been there,” Ming said.

The state's renewable energy goal is an economic development tool that shows companies the state is serious about the industry but not heavy-handed, he said. Efforts to roll back mandates in other states could be related to pressure from utility customers and regulators.

“In some states where the wind isn't as economically viable as ours, you could have a situation where you're forcing a solution when the wind is not really that economically competitive with the alternatives,” Ming said. “You may get more pushback in those states when their electricity prices start to reflect that. ... It's a good feather in Oklahoma's cap that we've been able to do this without a mandate.”

by Paul Monies
Energy Reporter
Paul Monies is an energy reporter for The Oklahoman. He has worked at newspapers in Texas and Missouri and most recently was a data journalist for USA Today in the Washington D.C. area. Monies also spent nine years as a business reporter and...
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