Known globally as an oil and gas giant, Oklahoma is rapidly diversifying its power portfolio and is quickly becoming known as one of the wind industry’s main markets in North America. With over 3,000 MW of wind generation currently in operation or under construction, the state is fast becoming one of the wind energy leaders in North (and even) South America.The opportunity in Oklahoma for wind energy is tremendous, with current development being only a fraction of its estimated potential.
According to the Oklahoma Wind Power Initiative (OWPI), a research and resource partnership between the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma has about 2.3 times more wind energy potential per square mile than Texas. The Southwest Power Pool, a regional transmission organization, expects its 8-state region to produce 8,500 MW of wind power, with more than half coming from Oklahoma, between 2020 and 2025. Finally, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory estimates that Oklahoma has 10 times the wind potential necessary to satisfy all electric energy demand in the Southwest Power Pool.
The 2011 Oklahoma First Energy Plan recently submitted by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and Oklahoma Energy Secretary, Mike Ming, indicates that within “Oklahoma’s panhandle alone, the state could develop more than 8,400 MWs of wind generation capacity. Assuming an average cost of $1.5 million for each turbine installed, this equates to more than $12 billion in capital investments, as much as $38 million per year in royalty payments to landowners and approximately $1.2 billion per year in wind electricity generation.”
“The energy industry has always been an important part of Oklahoma’s economy, and the growth of the Oklahoma renewable energy industry is no exception” said Secretary Ming. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reports that approximately 3000 direct and indirect jobs were supported by the industry in 2010, and that more than US$13 million in annual property tax and lease payments have been collected. In recent years, the wind industry has been the state’s primary renewable energy growth sector and has been a significant driver of economic growth in the state. This sector is poised to further grow in part because of the high capacity factor of Oklahoma wind, which allows investment to go further in Oklahoma then in other states.