Simmons: State cannot rely on intermittent power sources

Brook A. Simmons

Higher utility bills should remind us that wind power is not free.

In 2001, Oklahoma policymakers jumped on the bandwagon, creating tax incentives to boost a fledgling industry in the Sooner State.

With state and federal tax subsidies funding their construction, wind turbines were matched only by red cedars in their spread across the state’s skyline. Today, Oklahoma surpasses only Texas and Iowa in installed wind capacity, and 35% of the electricity used in the state came from wind power in 2020.

Naturally, the same policies that fostered the growth of the wind industry have created a power grid that is increasingly reliant on intermittent generation, lighting the fuse of a reliability time bomb when the wind isn’t blowing and increasing utility bills afterwards.

In 2021, when Oklahoma faced a once-in-a-century winter storm, renewable energy was unavailable. Electricity was needed to avoid blackouts and save lives, and that electricity was provided by natural gas.

The hardworking men and women of Oklahoma’s oil and natural gas industry worked around the clock in freezing conditions during winter storm Uri, risking their own personal safety to keep gas going. natural and powered and warm Oklahoma homes. The industry brought in contracted crews and equipment from neighboring states to keep natural gas processing plants running, lines thawing, and natural gas wells coming online.

This week, Oklahomans again faced a cold winter. Just like in 2021, Oklahoma oil and natural gas workers were on the ground to make sure the natural gas kept flowing. There will be more cold days this year and winters to come, and the men and women of Oklahoma’s oil and gas industry will play a key role in keeping our neighbors safe.

But we need to rethink policies that threaten a stable and secure power grid. The growing reliance on intermittent wind and solar power instead of plentiful, reliable natural gas makes it difficult when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining, and higher bills land in the box. letters.

Brook A. Simmons is president of Oklahoma Petroleum Alliance.