An Oklahoma electric cooperative has decided to build a power plant combining wind, solar, and battery technology instead of a natural gas plant to handle peak energy needs. The primary reason? Money.
“It’s actually cheaper economically than a gas peaker plant of similar size, particularly with the tax credits that are available right now,” said Phillip Schaeffer, the co-op’s principal resource planning engineer. “Prices have fallen significantly over the last several years.”
Western Farmers Electric Cooperative of Anadarko, Oklahoma, announced the Skeleton Creek project last week. It’s the largest proposed solar-wind-battery plant in the US. It will include facilities in Garfield, Alfalfa, and Major counties in north central Oklahoma:
- Skeleton Creek Wind, a previously announced venture that will provide 250 megawatts of wind energy. It’s scheduled to begin operating by the end of this year.
- Skeleton Creek Solar, providing 250 MW of solar energy. It’s to start operating by the end of 2023.
- Skeleton Creek Storage, providing 200 MW of battery storage for 4 hours (i.e., 800 megawatt-hours). It’s also scheduled to begin operations by the end of 2023.
Western Farmers provides electricity to 21 member cooperatives and other power users, including Altus Air Force Base near Altus, Oklahoma. Its service area is primarily in Oklahoma and New Mexico, although it extends into parts of Texas and Kansas.
A subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources of Juno Beach, Florida, will build and operate the plant. NextEra is a wholesale electricity supplier and the world’s largest operator of wind and solar projects.
“At Western Farmers, we are always looking for ways to better serve our customers with reliable, low-cost, and environmentally friendly energy,” said CEO Gary Roulet, quoted in a Western Farmers news re