WIND COMES SWEEPING DOWN THE PLAIN
Oklahoma: The next big US wind hub? Wind Energy Update speaks to Sandy Pratt, Deputy Director, Oklahoma Department of Commerce about how Oklahoma is positioning itself to become a strategic location for companies looking to enter the US wind energy sector
Rikki Stancich, 28 February 2011 (Wind Energy Update)
"Located in the heart of North America’s wind corridor, Oklahoma has about 2.3 times more wind energy potential per square mile than Texas. According to NREL, between now and 2030, Oklahoma has the potential to scale up from its current number 9 ranking for wind capacity, to number 2 in the US…"
[Oklahoma Department of Commerce Deputy Director Sandy Pratt:] "Last year we passed in the Energy Security Act…[stipulating] that by 2015, 15% of energy generated in Oklahoma must be from renewable energy sources…This is a very aggressive target…given that currently we source roughly 5% of energy from renewable energy…[A transferable] state production tax credit…is available for wind projects…[A] net metering incentive [is] in place…[allowing] homeowners who install wind or solar…[to] sell any excess from what they generate back to the grid."
click to enlarge
[Oklahoma Department of Commerce Deputy Director Sandy Pratt:] "We are building out a supply chain for manufacturers to locate jobs and invest in Oklahoma through the Quality Jobs programme, which provides a 5% cash back of payroll in quarterly cash payments…Oklahoma companies that wish to enter the wind sector (from aerospace or oil and gas – companies that have experience, equipment and skills sets that are transferable to the wind energy sector)…[are linked] with existing companies in the wind sector…[to help them] enter the market…We have five training and education programmes in wind and in solar, in safety training, maintenance & repair and operations…at technology centres in central and western parts of the state where the wind resource levels are highest…250 citizens have taken part in and completed wind programs…over the past two years."
[Oklahoma Department of Commerce Deputy Director Sandy Pratt:] "Oklahoma is…one of the easiest states for wind farm development…[There is an] abundance of land [with a] very good wind resource. There is a lot of education and awareness among the general population…There are groups that educate landowners on leases and contracts…Work carried out by meteorologists at Weather Sphere has important implications for wind energy developers, on both the siting and production predictability of wind farms…[T]he Oklahoma Wind Power Initiative (OWPI), a long-standing research project between the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University…investigates and promotes state wind resources, assists landowners and developers in determining capacity… [advocates] for wind energy development…offers economic analysis and information to potential wind energy investors and promotes networking among Oklahoma's wind power stakeholders."
click to enlarge
[Oklahoma Department of Commerce Deputy Director Sandy Pratt:] "We are rolling out a massive, aggressive marketing campaign, globally. We want to be the location for OEMs and we have been successful in attracting manufacturers, but we are also targeting O&M providers. Many turbines in the US are going out of warranty now and Oklahoma has a long history of O&M as well as transferable skills and knowledge for the oil and gas sector…[O]f the 50 projects we are currently working, approximately 25 are renewable energy projects, and the majority of those are wind-related…[T]he pipeline of wind projects has continued to be strong, even though financial markets are soft and companies are slower to take decisions…We work all aspects of the supply chain…"
[Oklahoma Department of Commerce Deputy Director Sandy Pratt:] "Transmission lines [is the challenge]. We are continuing to address this issue and nationally it is a high priority. Oklahoma gas and electric has been a leader in building transmission lines and in linking up key wind resource areas. It has undertaken several key investments…Clean Line Energy Partners are planning several projects, including a proposed 800-mile transmission line across Oklahoma and Arkansas to the Memphis area. This will provide a huge boost for developers…[Congress must make] sure the Production Tax Credit...[is] extended for more than on a session-to-session basis…The uncertainty that currently surrounds the PTC puts a burden on businesses and investors…[Congress should also create] more equity for the build-out of transmission infrastructure."