The New Oklahoma Fuel Boom
Since even before statehood, Oklahoma has been one of the largest energy producers in the country. Oil helped to build many of the communities in the central to western regions of the state. And coal in parts of eastern Oklahoma, as well as hydroelectric power in many areas. In fact Oklahoma has more manmade lakes than any other state. And in the last half century we have utilized Oklahoma’s large pockets of natural gas. But in the last decade Oklahoma has moved again to the forefront of energy production with an entirely different kind of energy production. Wind Energy.
In the last ten years, Oklahoma has had exponential growth in wind farms and is now in the planning stages of beginning the exportation of some of our surplus wind energy to Tennessee.
This new energy source has provided much in the way of revenue and contributions to the statewide and even local economies. According to the Economic impact report ‘The Statewide Economic Impact of Wind Energy Development in Oklahoma’ written by Kyle Dean and Russell R. Evans, in the first decade, from 2003-2012, wind farm developers invested over $6 billion dollars during development and construction. Another finding in the report is that the tax base created by these farms is over $42 million in property tax alone, and $22 million in direct wages to local workers.
In 2010, Oklahoma House Bill 3028 was passed, setting a goal that by this year, 2015, 15% of Oklahoma’s energy be produced through renewable resources. According to State Energy Secretary C. Michael Ming, in late 2012 that goal had been met, 3 year ahead of schedule. Nearly half of that is the product of wind energy according to the Oklahoma State Profile and Energy Estimates.
According to The Oklahoma State Profile and Energy Estimates, Oklahoma is among the top five states for wind energy production with our number of operating farms doubling over the last decade, and our potential for wind energy production ranked ninth.
Our moves toward clean energy, especially wind energy has even brought some non-energy related companies to Oklahoma. Google located a data center near Pryor and signed a contract for wind power with Minco II and later with a new GRDA facility in Canadian County.
But what is it that makes Oklahoma such a prime place for wind energy. Well, like our natural abundance of fuel resources like oil and coal, we also have an abundance of fairly steady wind. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oklahoma is located firmly in “America’s Wind Corridor.”
In the modern age of renewable resources and clean energy, it appears that Oklahoma has found itself, yet again, at the forefront of energy production, and is experiencing another energy boom.