Library filed under Energy Policy from Oklahoma
More than 1,100 megawatts of wind power capacity came online last year in the state. Much of it was driven by a rush of projects spawned by uncertainty over the expiration of a crucial federal tax credit for electricity generated from renewable energy. Congress then extended the wind production tax credit until the end of 2013.
Hardly a week goes by without the American Bird Conservancy sending me a press release about birds being killed at wind farms, a problem in the pursuit of clean energy. Yet the biggest bird mortality event of the past two years was the oil spill that resulted from the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon: More than 6,000 dead birds were recovered. So when does the environmental drawback of bird mortality trump a wind farm's benefit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions?
We're not opposed to new energies, just the notion that taxpayers - and, potentially, a huge pool of rate payers - must subsidize their viability. Congress needs a thorough debate on this issue as well as other attempts to implement green and global warming policy through federal regulatory agencies.
It often seems as if the wind never stops blowing in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma's House has passed a bill that creates a renewable energy standard and seeks to expand transmission capacity for further development of the state's abundant wind energy resource. The vote was 91-2. House Bill 3028, which creates the Oklahoma Energy Security Act, now goes to the Senate for consideration.
If nothing else, the opposition is organized. While members of the U.S. Senate struggle to find the right language for the American Clean Energy and Security Act and the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, the opposition to both measures has grown larger and more vocal. ...In fact many industry leaders say the bills would kill jobs and wreck the economy. Across the country trade associations have lined up to stop the Waxman-Markey bill.
The Times noted, however, that while policymakers and environmentalists "love the idea of generating clean power from the sun, wind, water and geothermal sources to displace imported oil," the Cape Wind problems illustrate how locally, "there is often opposition to the hardware needed to make renewable power work: big windmills, acres of solar panels and large-scale transmission lines."
But consumers need to realize that wind power is not a reliable energy source when the wind does not blow, Rice said. "We have 51 megawatts of wind generation, but we only get 4 megawatts of capacity for it because it's not dependable," Rice said. "And we had to put a gas turbine at our power facility at Ponca City to back it up, because if the wind suddenly dies, you've got to have that power back on immediately."
Wind energy could supply up to 20 percent of the nation's power supply but the two variables few talk about are reliability and transmission. The places where the wind blows the most -- like western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle -- also have few residents or businesses that need the power. To achieve the kind of wind power percentage that some states are mandating will require between 12,000 and 19,000 miles of new power lines criss-crossing the country. That kind of power line construction will cost up to $6.4 billion.
Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. today filed a renewable energy program with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission detailing its commitment to quadruple its wind energy capacity in the state to 770 megawatts (MW). The company described as an important first step its plan to construct a high-capacity transmission line betweenWoodward and Oklahoma City to further develop the state's vast wind energy potential. The filing also includes a request to begin providing a renewable energy option that will allow more OG&E customers to choose up to 100 percent renewable energy.
"The immediate challenge is to build transmission infrastructure to send wind energy to end users in other states," he said. Paying for the wind power transmission infrastructure is a complicated proposition involving state and federal regulators, the Southwest Power Pool, wind farm owners, landowners, Oklahoma-based utilities, utilities in other states - many east of the Mississippi River - who would buy the wind power created in Oklahoma and end users. "Our challenge is to encourage orderly development of this resource," Fleischaker said. The challenge includes fair compensation for Oklahoma resources. "We do not want to deliver an industry that exports revenues out of state," he said.
Opponents to expanding wind energy on public land are voicing their opinions, and sometimes in a loud manner. About 50 of those opponents met Wednesday with OG&E Electric Services and Department of Wildlife Conservation officials to discuss concerns about expanding Centennial Wind Farm north of Fort Supply onto Cooper Wildlife Management Area. It is a scenario OG&E says will not happen. In light of growing local and statewide opposition and concern by wildlife organizations about the impact to the region's natural habitat, OG&E has declined to pursue the development of any wind energy on public land, officials said.
For $50,000, Oklahoma can get the same kind of comprehensive study Kansas got from Southwest Power Pool on the state's wind power resource. The plan could be finished by spring 2008 and would provide the guidance state leaders need to form a plan for new electricity generation and transmission upgrades. ...Bary K. Warren, director of transmission policy and compliance for the Empire District Electric Co. in Joplin, Mo., cautioned the group to keep projections for future wind generation development modest. Companies may put out press releases indicating their intent to build future capacity, but unforeseen developments may significantly limit the amount of wind generation that actually gets built, he said.
The Oklahoma panhandle has plenty of wind power-generating capacity, and more capacity is scheduled for the near future. Now if there was only a way to get all that power onto the electricity grid. Members of the Oklahoma Electric Power Transmission Task Force on July 9 discussed the pressing need for improvements to the state's transmission infrastructure, particularly near Oklahoma's "wind farms." The problem is finding a company willing to invest in a project that may or may not yield a sizable return......Even if SPP agrees that the expenditures for new transmission for wind power in the area can be classified as improvements made for the sake of reliability, due to the unpredictability of wind power generation, the organization will give only a 10-percent accreditation for wind power. Warren said there have been days when the wind just doesn't blow. "Sometimes we got zero megawatts out of a 150-megawatt wind farm," he said, adding that his company couples wind power with more reliable generation sources. The situation puts investors at high risk, said Lepard. "You can get back 10 percent, but you have to build a line capable of handling the whole thing," said Lepard.
Oklahoma has long been known for its abundant reserves of oil and gas, but Norman-area lawmakers want to add wind power to the list of leading energy sources. Already, 420 towering wind turbines in western Oklahoma provide about 3 percent of the state's electricity, according to the Oklahoma Wind Power Initiative, a joint project of the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University.
A new study could put 10 Texas counties in front of the pack to lure wind energy companies and related industries to them. The city of Childress, along with 10 counties and Harmon County in Oklahoma, have formed the Rolling Plains Rural Partnership and are applying for a $150,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Office. The yearlong study, if funding is approved, would place about nine or 10 anemometers around the partnership's area. The anemometers collect and record wind data for the entire year. The exact areas the towers will be located will be determined by a meteorologist and based on elevations and current and future transmission lines. What the group is banking on is the creation of the Panhandle Loop, an electrical transmission system being debated that would transmit electricity from West Texas to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas's grid, which provides electricity to a majority of Texas residents. The $1.5 billion loop is in the planning stages, but is awaiting the outcome of June hearings by the Public Utilities Commissions to approve wind energy areas in West Texas.
NORMAN- The Oklahoma Wind Power Initiative, along with the Oklahoma Renewable Energy Council, will be hosting renewable energy workshops in December to help Oklahomans develop the state’s cash crops of wind and biofuels.
A new simulation finds serious and previously unrecognized environmental threats from massive wind farms in the American Great Plains. A recent study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research by scientists from Princeton and Duke Universities indicates massive wind farms would significantly increase local surface drying and soil heating, which in turn would impact agricultural or range use on or near the wind farm. The modeling experiment used current wind turbine and rotor technology to assess local climate impacts from a simulated wind farm with 10,000 turbines, arranged in a simple, square array of 100 by 100 turbines, each spaced one kilometer apart.