Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

CEO of American Wind Energy Assn.: Oklahoma Has the Potential to Be 8th in Wind Power

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

CEO of American Wind Energy Assn.: Oklahoma Has the Potential to Be 8th in Wind Power

Article excerpt

As an elected member of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission for 10 years, Denise Bode worked to establish commercial wind power in the state.

Electricity-generating companies in the state first started using power generated from wind farms in 2003, while she was a commissioner.

Now in her newest job as CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, Bode promotes wind power on a nationwide basis. She joined the wind energy trade association with 1,600 member companies early this year.

In a report released last week, the AWEA ranked Oklahoma 12th in the nation in capacity for generating electricity from wind turbines. The state's capacity totals 707.9 megawatts, but Bode said the state's potential for wind-generated electricity is much greater and Oklahoma could quickly - as soon as this year - advance its ranking.

With 142 megawatts of wind power under development, Oklahoma could increase its wind power capacity by 20 percent this year.

"Oklahoma has the potential to be the eighth-largest producer of wind power in the country," Bode said.

Utilities in the state are seeking additional wind power production, she said.

Tulsa-based Public Service Company of Oklahoma and Oklahoma Gas and Electric of Oklahoma City have requested proposals for additional wind power production. Western Farmers Electric Cooperative of Anadarko expects to award a contract within the next 30 days that could more than double its current capacity for receiving wind-generated electricity.

Oklahoma's wind power industry potential extends beyond wind farms and utilities, Bode said. The manufacture of wind turbines and other needed equipment and related training has the potential to create jobs in the state.

In January, Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City began classes for the state's first wind turbine technology degree program. The program will include classes in electrical, power transmission, industrial safety, climbing, scheduled maintenance and general service. Students can also earn a wind turbine technology certificate by completing the degree curriculum without taking the general education classes.

High Plains Technology Center in Woodward began offering a wind technician certificate program in January. The first session is scheduled for 14 weeks with classes meeting two nights a week. The second session is scheduled for 13 weeks from May through August. Students successfully completing both sessions will receive a wind technician certificate.

"Oklahoma could be a hub or center for training people for the wind business," Bode said. "It is a fabulous opportunity."

Although there have been recent layoffs by manufacturers because of economic woes and a lack of financing, manufacturing also provides the potential for job creation, she said. Manufacturing potential extends beyond wind turbines in Oklahoma and nationwide. …

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