As spokesperson for Advancing Wind, a grassroots initiative of individuals, businesses, chambers of commerce, cultural groups and educational entities that promote wind energy development throughout the state, I’ve had the opportunity to explore the social, economic and environmental impact wind has in Oklahoma.
I’ve learned firsthand that the wind energy industry is important to a large number of Oklahomans for a variety of reasons. I’ve talked to land owners in Blackwell who benefit from wind leases and community leaders there who are thrilled to have modern technology generating revenue and clean energy right in their backyard.
The excitement for the future of wind energy in our state is undeniable, ranging from social media followers to business supporters. The number of online advocates for wind energy has grown especially quickly in recent months.
Through online and social media channels, Advancing Wind shares everything from Oklahoma wind energy statistics to worldwide wind energy news to their combined 5,500 followers on Facebook and Twitter. The interaction on the pages is varied and includes job inquiries, questions about wind farm locations and enthusiastic comments about wind energy in general.
Schools around the state are also joining the movement. The University of Oklahoma recently placed No. 2 on the Environmental Protection Agency’s top 20 colleges and universities of Green Power Partners. Oklahoma State University landed at No. 6 on that list, making Oklahoma the only state to have two publicly funded schools in the top 10 for using renewable energy forms such as wind on their campuses.
The University of Central Oklahoma is a major player when it comes to using renewable power sources, as well. OSU-Oklahoma City, Canadian Valley Technology Center and others also offer wind energy instruction.
It isn’t hard to understand why people are so passionate about wind. According to the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) statistics from 2012, Oklahoma moved up to sixth place in the rankings of installed wind capacity. AWEA also noted that Oklahoma added more than 1,100 megawatts of wind power capacity in just the last year, putting Oklahoma’s total capacity at more than 3,134 megawatts. This is enough to power more than 1,000,000 average American homes.
Even with all this, we have only skimmed the surface of Oklahoma’s wind energy potential. Our resources could provide more than 31 times the state’s current electricity needs, according to the National Renewable Energy Lab.
Wind not only has the power to provide a plentiful, sustainable energy resource to power our homes, but it can create a source of revenue as we sell wind energy to other states. This has the potential to lead to more Oklahoma jobs, economic growth and increased opportunity for communities throughout our state.
We believe in Oklahoma. We believe in Advancing Wind.
Kirsten McIntyre is the spokesperson for Advancing Wind. For more information, visit www.AdvancingWind.com.
Opinions expressed on the commentary page, in letters to the editor and elsewhere in this newspaper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ownership or management.