Oklahoma Utilities Energize the State with Solar Projects

Recently, Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. (OG&E) and Tri-County Electric Cooperative (TCEC) showcased expanded energy portfolios featuring renewable energy products.

OG&E now has two installed solar farms, totaling 2.5 MW of generating capacity. The expansion to solar is similar to the company’s adoption of wind energy more than a decade ago. The south solar farm consists of approximately 2,000 fixed solar panels (0.5 MW) while the north farm consists of approximately 8,000 tracking solar panels (2 MW). The farms will test the deployment and operation of utility-scale solar power on grid safety, maintenance and reliability.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin was on-hand for the powering of the south solar farm in late July.

“We have a very long history in our state of energy production,” Fallin said. “We’ve been an innovative leader in new technology, certainly in the oil and gas industry, but we’ve also been very progressive in looking at other technology, whether it’s becoming one of the leading states in the nation in wind power, which OG&E has incorporated along with natural gas.

“Now to add solar power into our energy mix in our state is truly a great accomplishment. I’m very excited to see where this goes in the state of Oklahoma.”

“When I’m trying to attract a business and new jobs to our state, I’m talking about our cost of living, our cost of commercial real estate, our housing, but one of the things I sell is our cost of power,” Fallin said.

OG&E is also studying rooftop generated solar power. The company will use data from both the solar farms and installed rooftop solar panels to develop solar power options for customers.

“We want to learn about how to maintain and operate these systems: What does it take to operate them, to maintain them, to switch them for our linemen so they are familiar with this kind of thing and have safe operating procedures,” said Scott Milanowski, OG&E’s director of engineering, innovation and technology.

TCEC breaks ground on community solar array

On August 18, TCEC celebrated the groundbreaking of its one megawatt community solar array located at its headquarters in Hooker, Okla.

The State of Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment Michael Teague made remarks about the project, saying, “This is absolutely the right next step for our state … If we don’t continue to innovate, if we don’t continue to change, we kinda we get run over.”

Michael Henderson, president of Today’s Power, Inc., and developer of the project also made some remarks during the ceremony.

“This is a safer product and we’re all about safety,” said Henderson. “The other thing we like about it is we get about 20 percent more energy out of a panel than anyone else does. The reason we’re able to do that is because the reflector panel on this system reflects sunlight back onto the solar panel and turbocharges that panel…The other thing is that most solar arrays take up a larger footprint. TCEC takes up about 40 percent less of a footprint so we’re good stewards of the land.”

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