Wind power is getting to be a less expensive proposition for many Oklahoma electrical users.
Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. has slashed the price of its Wind Power program, which allows customers to get 25 percent, 50 percent or 100 percent of their electricity from wind.
This year's prices are about half of what they were last year, officials said, because wind has become a more affordable alternative to traditional fuel sources such as coal or natural gas.
Mike Newcombe, the Oklahoma City-based utility's product portfolio manager, said the wind program is in its 10th year.
“Customers could first enroll in wind power at the state fair in 2003,” he said.
Over the past decade, OG&E has added 841 megawatts of wind power capacity to its generation portfolio, which totals 6,358 megawatts.
The company has been recognized by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory as one of the top 10 green power sellers. OG&E sold about 210,000 megawatts of wind power last year, good for No. 9 on the list.
“Participating in utility green power programs allows consumers to support renewable energy above and beyond what utilities are procuring to comply with state renewable portfolio standards,” analyst Jenny Heeter said.
“These utilities are offering first-rate programs that give their customers an opportunity to support renewable energy deployment.”
Newcombe said OG&E has almost 12,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers enrolled in its wind program.
He said research has shown customers appreciate the opportunity to opt for wind power, if they choose. Most of those who participate opt for 100 percent of their power to be wind-supplied, he said.
Public Service Co. of Oklahoma offers a similar program.
The Tulsa-based utility currently has about 675 customers enrolled in its WindChoice program, which costs an additional $1.72 for 100 kilowatts of wind power.
PSO has nearly 700 megawatts of wind power in its portfolio.
Newcombe said reasonable prices make wind power an attractive proposition. The average OG&E customer pays an extra $3.50 a month to get all of its power from wind.
“It doesn't take much of a commitment to go for 100 percent,” he said.
Newcombe said most of the customers who have chosen the wind option recently have been young people and families.
“They're really responding to our wind power message,” he said.
OG&E now is targeting customers who signed up for its SmartHours program, a voluntary program that allows customers to adjust their electricity use to avoid higher prices in summer months.
Newcombe said the program helps participants save money on their electric bills, so most are willing to reinvest that savings in cleaner power.
“They're a little more aware,” he said. “They're interested in doing anything they can to help control demand.”
Newcombe noted Oklahoma universities are committed to wind power as well.
The University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University have struck deals with OG&E to use wind for their electricity needs, while Rose State College is a participant in the utility's Wind Power program.
At a glance
By the numbers
Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. customers can choose to get part or all of their electricity from wind power. The utility's Wind Power program costs a few extra dollars a month for the average customer, who uses about 12,000 kilowatts of electricity a year.
To sign up for OG&E's Wind Power program, customers can call (800) 272-9741 or log in to their account on oge.com. The website will show customers how much power they use and how much it will cost to switch to wind.