CEO: Western Farmers Electric Cooperative Pushes for Wind, Natural Gas Usage at Oklahoma Conference

Article excerpt

Western Farmers Electric Cooperative added 300 megawatts of power generation capacity in the last year and plans to add more smart generation from natural gas and wind, Gary Roulet, CEO, said on Tuesday at the 2009 Oklahoma Emerging Technology Conference in Midwest City.

"We plan to add an additional 125 megawatts of wind power by 2012," he said.

WFEC currently receives 123 megawatts of the power it provides to its 19 member electric cooperatives from wind. The 19 members provide electric power to more than two-thirds of rural Oklahoma and parts of Kansas, Arkansas and Texas.

Wind provides much of the Anadarko-based cooperative's new generation capacity.

In January, WFEC began receiving wind-generated power from the Buffalo Bear project with capacity of 19 megawatts operated by Edison Mission Group near Fort Supply. In June, the cooperative began receiving an additional 123 megawatts of wind power from the Red Hills Wind Farm operated by Acciona Energy North America in Roger Mills and Custer counties. WFEC has been receiving wind power from the Blue Canyon Wind Farm near Lawton since 2003.

"Everyone loves wind and so does Western Electric and its members," Roulet said. "Our goal is to add more wind."

While increasing wind power capacity, WEFC still needs a balanced portfolio for generation, he said.

"Don't get disillusioned," Roulet said. "Wind is good because of zero emissions and it lowers your carbon footprint. But wind is not the answer to all our problems. It is a partial fix."

One problem, he said, is that wind-generation capacity is generally reduced during the calmer summer months - a time when electric demand is high.

Natural gas will be a major source of new generation capacity, he said.

"What kind of generation do you want for the next 10 years," Roulet asked. "It is probably natural gas."

WFEC's current fuel portfolio includes 12-percent wind, 40- percent coal, 8-percent water and the remainder natural gas. …


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