A Light Into the Future

Oklahoma’s plan to diversify resources will lead to more affordable, reliable and clean energy.

Traditionally known as an oil and gas state, Oklahoma has switched gears and is capitalizing on its natural resources and building a much more diverse energy plan. “Oklahoma is an energy leader and an all-of-the-above energy state,” says Michael Teague, Oklahoma Secretary of Energy & Environment. “We currently rank third in natural gas production, fourth in wind production, and sixth in oil production. The strength of our energy portfolio is in its diversity, and we will further diversify by exploring the potential of emerging energy technologies.”

Oklahoma is home to some of the world’s most innovative and advanced oil and gas producers, many of which are at the forefront of pioneering new technologies to address both energy exploration opportunities and environmental challenges, says Teague. While solar resources are currently underused, state officials plan to increase solar energy use by addressing regulatory and market barriers within the state.

The state’s diverse energy portfolio has impacted electricity rates, which are now the fifth cheapest in the nation. “Oklahoma currently offers two primary financial incentives for clean energy — a zero-emissions tax credit similar to the federal production tax credit and a property tax exemption for wind,” says Teague. “These incentives have been very successful in spurring wind energy development across Oklahoma. As a result of that success, we reformed these incentives earlier this year to create certainty for both the wind industry and the state’s budget.”

The Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority, a wholesale power company owned by 41 municipal electric utilities, recently dedicated The Charles D. Lamb Energy Center. The plant, capable of generating 103 megawatts, recently became commercially operational and was called on to operate by the Southwest Power Pool, the regional transmission organization for Oklahoma and 13 other states. Located on a 160-acre plot, the plant uses only about 20 acres and has the potential to expand in the future.

Oklahoma’s stated energy policy goals — affordable, reliable, secure, domestic and clean — are set out in the Oklahoma First Energy Plan. “Governor Fallin’s energy plan established the objective of revolutionizing the way we approach energy policy in the state by treating energy like the interconnected system it is, rather than separate industries.” says Teague. “As a result, we have approached energy and environmental issues jointly — issues ranging from our efforts to expand the natural gas vehicle industry to addressing drought in partnership with our energy industries.”

Oak Ridge National Laboratory recently estimated that there are enough resources in the state to satisfy 10 times the energy demand in the Southwest Power Pool. Oklahoma is consistently demonstrating a track record in energy innovation, and is leading the way as a model for other states and the nation in practical and affordable energy policy for a new energy future. Leveraging and improving the traditional while also embracing the transformational is the key, according to Governor Fallin’s statewide energy plan. Teague says, “Our pro-business climate and stated policy of encouraging development of Oklahoma’s resources also help to encourage the growth of clean energy.”

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