STILLWATER — Oklahoma State University is moving forward with a plan officials say will allow the university to cut its carbon footprint and save millions of dollars in utility costs.
A deal between OSU and Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. that would place a new 60-megawatt wind farm near Blackwell received approval from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission in late February. OSU officials hope to see the project come on line later this year.
OG&E already operates the 101-megawatt OU Spirit wind farm near Woodward to supply electricity to the University of Oklahoma.
OSU officials announced the project late last year. They say the project will allow the university to take down its 62-year-old cogeneration power plant at the corner of Hall of Fame Avenue and Monroe Street.
Rick Krysiak, the director of OSU's Physical Plant, said the university expects to see $20 million to $30 million in savings over the 20-year life of the project.
Up to now, Krysiak said, the university's power plant has had the capacity to produce about a third of the electricity the university uses through the use of seven steam-
Typically, he said, the university only uses the plant in cases of emergency — for example, if a tornado is in the area, he said.
At all other times, it makes more economic sense to buy the university's power from OG&E, he said. Even when it's being operated as efficiently as possible, Krysiak said, the university's power plant is simply too old to be an efficient option.
For about 10 months, the university looked at the possibility of building another power plant similar to the one it uses now. But during that time, OG&E approached university officials about the possibility of switching to wind power.