Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co. (OG&E) has commissioned a 10 MW-AC community solar PV power plant in Covington. The facility was sold out – with enough interest to also purchase the capacity of the prior 2.5 MW solar plant built by the utility.
“We’ve been tracking an increase in customer interest,” noted OG&E CEO Keith Mitchell.
The plant was built by Moss Construction Management’s solar arm, using SunPower’s Oasis modular solution , including single axis tracking and the company’s 16-17% efficiency shingle celled P-Series solar modules. The Oasis system also includes automatic cleaning by a low-water robotic system in the high dust area.
The construction process involved one tragedy. Davis Knox of Blanchard, Oklahoma – born in October 1961 – died on the site while building the project.
Solar in the wind belt
According to the latest estimates by Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Oklahoma had only 32 MW of installed solar before this plant, meaning that another 10 MW increases the state’s cumulative installed capacity by 31%.
But when your state is the second largest producer of electricity via wind power and has seen wind peak at 60% of instantaneous generation, it may be natural that solar power is an afterthought. According to the American Wind Energy Association:
Oklahoma had 7,495 megawatts of installed wind power capacity at the end of 2017, putting the state behind only Texas, which boasts 22,637 megawatts of capacity.
OG&E has made interesting comments that very clearly spelt out how solar power could fit into this state’s unique power grid. OG&E CEO Mitchell said solar power, during the times of year when the wind isn’t as strong – such as high summer – will be more predictable than wind
The utility found some customers chose solar because they were interested in renewable energy, while others wanted to lock in predictable power prices.
“What we do next needs to be done in an optimum way,” he continued. “We have several other ones we have mapped out, when we think about what might be next.”
The technical benefits of solar in balancing wind output, coupled with strong customer support, and a pragmatic development process suggests we’re in the rising phase of solar power in Oklahoma.