Oklahomans are keenly aware of the rich resources beneath our state’s surface. The commodities we send to market from underground account for a huge portion of our state’s economy. But, as technology begins to improve, and policymakers continue to realize the valuable resources we also have above our land, we are realizing a whole new dimension to our state’s energy economy: wind power.
Last week, Acciona Energy, accompanied by Oklahoma’s Secretary of Energy Michael Ming, dedicated a brand-new project called the Big Smile Wind Farm at Dempsey Ridge. This 132-megawatt wind farm is within Oklahoma’s wind corridor in Roger Mills and Beckham counties. The Big Smile Wind Farm at Dempsey Ridge is Acciona’s third renewable-energy project in Oklahoma. Operating at capacity, this wind farm has the ability to provide 46,000 with clean energy. Plus, this wind farm will be able to avoid about 339,000 metric tons of CO2 pollution each year, compared to traditional, dirtier coal power.
This particular wind farm has a special story as well. It is named in honor of the late Jennifer “Jen” Koop-Krass, a former Acciona Energy employee who tragically lost her valiant battle with ovarian cancer. Acciona’s friend and colleague, Koop-Krass was always known for her wonderful, big smile. Acciona Energy has also partnered with the local schools and named fellowships in her honor. This is incredibly special because her legacy will live on in the form of fellowships and clean energy making a difference in Oklahoma. This is a meaningful tribute from a company investing in our home state.
Under the leadership of Ming and Gov. Mary Fallin, Oklahoma’s energy plan calls for a new partnership between wind power and natural gas production. This synergy blends together two of Oklahoma’s amazing, native commodities both below and above the ground. Ming remarked at the Big Smile dedication that Oklahoma’s goal of providing 15 percent of its electricity generation from renewable and clean energy sources by the year 2016 is way ahead of schedule and exceeding expectations. That sounds right for the “Sooner” state.
Oklahomans should be proud of the progress our great state is making by utilizing its cleaner forms of energy in natural gas and wind. Our electricity grid and interconnection to the regional Southwest Power Pool, and progressive legislative and regulatory policies, help advance the production of these resources. Oklahoma, while small relative to other energy markets, is a model of clean self-sufficiency for the nation. The dedication of this wind farm last week, and the advancement of energy in our state, truly is a reason to smile for Oklahoma; a very Big Smile.
Jim Roth, a former Oklahoma corporation commissioner, is an attorney with Phillips Murrah P.C. in Oklahoma City, where his practice focuses on clean, green energy for Oklahoma.