Co-ops Add Solar to Generation Mix

Chris Meyers
General Manager
Oklahoma Association of
Electric Cooperatives

 

To more efficiently serve their consumer-owners, electric co-ops believe in a diversified energy portfolio that includes fossil fuels as well as renewable energy sources such as hydro, wind and solar. In fact, for the year 2017, co-ops will add to Oklahoma’s solar capacity in a big way.


The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reports 3.7 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity were installed in Oklahoma in 2015. As of April 2016, the state of Oklahoma had 5.2 MW of solar energy installed, ranking the Sooner State as 45th in the country in installed capacity. In 2017, electric cooperatives will add 20-plus MW to the state’s existing solar power capacity—a nearly fourfold growth. This cooperative-led capacity is a game changer for Oklahoma. The effort is spearheaded by a generation and transmission cooperative, Western Farmers Electric Cooperative (WFEC), based in Anadarko, Oklahoma. WFEC provides power to 17 member cooperatives in Oklahoma, along with the Altus Air Force Base, plus four cooperatives in New Mexico. WFEC completed five utility-scale sites in various locations in Oklahoma and 12 smaller solar projects, some of which are community-solar sites. Additionally, Tri-County Electric Cooperative (TCEC) based in Hooker, Oklahoma, was the first utility in the state to offer a community solar project to its membership.


On the national level, the total solar energy capacity of America’s electric cooperatives will be five times what it was two years ago, according to data released by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. For 2017, co-ops are on pace to add 480 MW of solar, which would bring their total capacity to 873 MW. Co-ops’ solar footprint is present in 44 states. We are glad to see Oklahoma on the list of co-op solar efforts. Co-ops will continue to invest in solar power in a way that makes sense to the membership and enables them to ‘power the needs of new generations.’ OKL Article End

 

Thankful for Opportunity to Serve

Gary McCune
President
Oklahoma Association of
Electric Cooperatives

 

But this challenge became easier by working with such a talented magazine staff. They have informed me of the content of the next issue’s articles and have given me plenty of notice of pending deadlines. I am not the only one to notice their abilities. The magazine was recently recognized nationally at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Annual Meeting held in San Diego, California for the prestigious George W. Haggard Award. This award is presented to the statewide publication that best demonstrates forthrightness, clarity and balance in communicating the objectives of the electric cooperatives. Well done, Oklahoma Living!


As my term ends being your statewide association chairman, I have several others to thank. First, thanks to my family for allowing me the additional time away from home and work, thus enabling me to devote the time needed to accomplish what had been set before us. Thanks to Central Electric Cooperative for placing their trust in me to represent them on the local level, thus allowing me this statewide opportunity. I thank each of the executive team members who exemplify the cooperative spirit on a daily basis, always keeping the members’ interest in the forefront of their decisions. A special shout out to those readers who sent a personal letter or note to comment on how one of my articles somehow spoke to them personally. It made writing the next article that much easier and made my efforts meaningful.


Scott Copeland from Northfork Electric Cooperative will serve as the next chairman. I look forward to his views and opinions in the following issues. I know that he will receive and appreciate the same support that I have.


Always remember that nothing is more powerful than the cooperative spirit—collectively we can do so much more than we could ever do individually. OKL Article End