Oklahoma Wind Is Blowing Coal Away

The current population of Oklahoma is approximately 3.95 million people. In May 2019, state utilities used renewable energy (46.3%), natural gas (45.5%) and coal (8.2%) to generate electricity. Wind, hydropower and solar are the primary sources of renewable energy in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma’s reliance on renewable energy contributes to the state’s low electricity prices. In May 2019, the average cost of electricity in Oklahoma was U.S. 10.4 ¢ per kWh, which is the 5th cheapest state in the United States. The average price of electricity in the United States in May 2019 was 13.3 ¢ per kWh.

Oklahoma is one of only 20 states that doesn’t have a renewable energy standard, that mandates that utilities use a designated amount of renewable energy to generate electricity. However, the economics of low-cost renewable energy have spurred Oklahoma utilities to move from expensive coal to renewable energy.

The public utility, Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) has announced it will decommission a coal-fired power plant in eastern Oklahoma. The 520 MW capacity Grand River Energy Center Unit 1 began operation in 1978. The GRDA’s decision to close the facility were based on high operating cost of coal-fired power plants and the environmental issues with coal-ash contamination of ground water.

The GRDA was founded in 1935 to control, develop, and maintain the Grand River waterway. The GRDA, headquartered in Vinita, Oklahoma is a nonprofit agency designed to sell electricity and water.

Oklahoma, unlike many “environmentally progressive” states has no mandatory energy standards for state utilities. However, the robust economics of wind energy has spurred utilities to aggressively move from fossil fuels to renewable energy. In 2005, Oklahoma’s use of renewable energy was almost nonexistent. Today, Oklahoma uses a higher percentage of renewable energy than many environmentally progressive states like New York.

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