Article by Paul Monies from The Oklahoman
Oklahoma added almost 1,200 megawatts of wind capacity in the last three months of 2016 as it leapfrogged California to take third place among the states for wind capacity.
Among the new wind farms starting operations at the end of the year was Duke Energy Renewable’s 200-megawatt Frontier Windpower project near Blackwell. The 61-turbine project will sell electricity to a city utility in Springfield, Mo., under a 22-year contract.
Oklahoma had 6,645 megawatts of wind capacity by the end of 2016 as it added 1,462 megawatts for the year, the association’s fourth quarter report said. That’s a 28 percent increase since the end of 2015.
National wind additions
Nationally, wind developers added 8,203 megawatts of capacity in 2016, with 6,478 megawatts coming in the fourth quarter.
The boost at the end of the year likely was related to federal incentives. Wind generation was eligible for a federal production tax credit of 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour in 2016. That tax credit will phase down to 80 percent of its value in 2017, 60 percent in 2018 and 40 percent in 2019. It is then scheduled to end, although qualified projects have 10 years to use the credit.
The Congressional Budget Office previously estimated the renewal and phase-down of the federal production tax credit would cost $14.5 billion from 2016 to 2025.
The American Wind Energy Association said wind power growth has spread up from Texas into the Plains states and across the Midwest. More than 89 percent of the new capacity installed in 2016 was in those states, including Oklahoma.
“Wind power isn’t a red or blue industry, it’s red, white and blue,” Tom Kiernan, the association’s CEO, said in a news release. “Low-cost, homegrown wind energy is something we can all agree on. States like Texas and Iowa are leading the way in terms of wind turbines and wind jobs.”
The United States had 82,183 megawatts of wind capacity by the end of 2016, surpassing hydropower on a capacity basis for the first time. Nationally, wind power provided 5.5 percent of the country’s electricity. Kiernan said wind was on track to reach 10 percent by 2020.