The Alternatives

Wind, solar and combined forms of energy gain momentum in Oklahoma.

An article by Tracy LeGrand from Oklahoma Magazine

Oklahoma is, indeed, where the winds come sweeping down the plains. That wind is used to create power for myriad uses; other alternative forms of energy are also making inroads into ways of life.

“It does seem that alternative energy, like wind generation, is becoming more prominent in Oklahoma,” says Justin Alberty, corporate communications director for the Grand River Dam Authority. “New wind farms have been constructed in recent years, and the state’s electric utilities are beginning to add more wind to their overall generation portfolios. That is certainly the case for the Grand River Dam Authority. Today, our portfolio is diverse and balanced, with coal, gas, hydro and wind sources.”

In March 2014, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems America signed an agreement – the first of its kind in the Western Hemisphere – for a combined-cycle natural gas generation unit to provide low-cost reliable electricity for GRDA customers for decades to come. New gas generation, while not classified as alternative energy, is “expected to be the most efficient combined-cycle facility in the United States when it is completed in 2017,” says Alberty.

The unit uses natural gas to fuel a combustion turbine generator; heat from that process is recaptured to produce steam to turn another steam turbine generator. According to Dan Sullivan, GRDA CEO and director of investments, the high efficiency unit is part of a long-term strategy to reduce the state’s reliance on coal.

GRDA is also partnering with TradeWinds Energy to deliver low-cost wind energy projects, providing low-cost energy to 65,000 Oklahoma homes.

“Oklahoma has an outstanding natural resource in wind, but what sets it apart for development is the state’s commitment to encouraging wind energy in a way that creates jobs and spurs investment in local communities,” says Sanjay Bhasin, TradeWinds’ senior vice president for business development.

Harvest Solar and Wind Power in Tulsa has provided homeowners, businesses and government entities with solar and wind energy products for the last dozen years.

“People are turning to these forms of energy for various reasons, including saving money and saving the world,” says Harvest owner John Miggins. “The majority of people are in it for their futures – especially to lock in their cost of energy use and to take advantage of the 30 percent federal tax credit that expires in 2016.”

Demands for alternative energy in Oklahoma continue to grow. As the options are there for alternative energy, more will take notice and seek out the ability to purchase it.

Read the story at the Oklahoma Magazine’s website.

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