The Oklahoma Energy Security Act, House Bill 3028 sponsored by House Speaker Chris Benge of Tulsa, was passed yesterday by the House, 91-2. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration. If the bill passes the Senate, Oklahoma will become the 32 state to have passed state renewable energy legislation. The bill would require 15 percent of all electricity generated in Oklahoma to come from renewable sources such as wind by 2015.
Although Oklahoma is a major natural gas and oil state, it imports significant amounts of coal to generate its electricity. Under the leadership of Democratic Governor Brad Henry, the state pushed for the development of wind energy and biofuels and at the end of 2009, boasted 1,130 megawatts of installed wind capacity, placing the state fourth in the Midwest behind Iowa, Minnesota and North Dakota for total wind generation. The states utilities are now planning projects to improve the grid in order to handle the extra capacity generated by additional wind energy projects.
Interesting to note, Oklahoma’s bill sets a higher standard than either of the versions of the Federal Renewable Energy Standard that is still in consideration. The House bill calls for 20 percent renewables by 2020 with the option of 5 percent coming from efficiency improvements. In addition, state governors can ask for a weaker standard if they can’t meet the Federal mandate. The Senate, however, sets the bar lower with only 15 percent of the nation’s electricity coming from renewables by 2020 while simultaneously a large portion of that energy gain coming from efficiency improvements.