Dec. 18—Energy flowing across Oklahoma’s transmission grid turned greener this week.
On Wednesday, Western Farmers Electric Cooperative and NextEra Energy Resources flipped a switch activating the first phase of power generation from Skeleton Creek.
The Skeleton Creek project, which combibnes wind, solar and stored energy into a single source of power for the grid, is located in Garfield, Alfalfa and Major counties and already has created hundreds of construction jobs and provided millions of dollars in lease payments to landowners and in tax payments to the local communities.
The entire project will provide approximately $105 million in payments to the county governments over its projected 30-year operational life, and approximately $90 million in payments to local landowners, officials have said.
The wind portion of the project, which has a generating capacity of 250 megawatts (MW), is the first of its components to be activated, officials said.
“Oklahoma is a leader in renewable energy, and at Western Farmers, we are excited to add an additional 250 MW of clean, reliable and environmentally-friendly wind energy from Skeleton Creek,” said Gary Roulet, the cooperative’s CEO. “This is another milestone on our evolution towards increasing zero-carbon energy. And, when we add the solar energy and battery storage components of this project, we’ll be able to make more affordable, renewable energy available to customers for more hours of the day — even when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.”
The Skeleton Creek Project’s combination of wind, solar and energy storage was the first project of its type announced by developers within the Southwest Power Pool’s (SPP) 546,000 square mile operational area. The regional transmission organization oversees the operation of 66,000 lines miles of transmission grid that supplies power to utilities, cooperatives and other power consumers across Oklahoma and parts or all of 13 other states stretching from the Red River all the way to the U.S.-Canadian border.
The other two components of Skeleton Creek, the solar farm and battery installations with capacities of 250 MW and 200 MW (for four hours) respectively, both are expected to be operational by the end of 2023.
The top executive at NextEra Energy Resources said Thursday he already is looking forward to a total activation of the project.
“The Skeleton Creek project will provide millions of dollars in additional revenue for landowners and local communities while generating clean, homegrown energy for years to come,” John Ketchum, its CEO, said Thursday.
Meanwhile, Western Farmers, a generationfocused cooperative that serves 21 member cooperatives in Oklahoma, New Mexico, portions of Texas and Kansas, Altus Air Force Base and other power users, noted Skeleton Creek continues to have an impact on the overall mix of sources of energy it provides to its customers.
After completion of the solar and energy storage phase of the project is completed, the cooperative’s generation portfolio will consist of 623 MW of solar generation, 957 MW of wind generation and 268 MW of hydroelectric generation, representing about half of its power generating capacity. It also uses natural gas and coal generating stations and wholesale power purchases from the SPP’s grid to provide reliable energy to its customers at affordable prices.
Business Writer Jack Money covers Oklahoma’s energy and agricultural beats for the newspaper and Oklahoman.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a subscription today at oklahoman.com/subscribe.