2 January 2004
When it's easy being green
Oklahoma sits over a huge reservoir of natural gas, there are dozens of oil rigs drilling in the state, and we even have coal mines. Still, we're going to deplete our fossil fuels eventually the really cheap ones, anyway so OG&E's Wind Power program, small as it is for now, justifies the amount of hype it's getting.
Of course, there's no way to guarantee that your little segment of the grid is going to be powered strictly by the Woodward turbine farm, and there's no way the utility can serve all of its customers with the 51-mW capacity available now. But if they can sell enough 100-kW units to individual customers to make a few bucks off the system we're obviously never going to lack for wind in this state there will be more turbines in the future, and presumably lower prices. And OG&E's nominal surcharge for wind power will largely be offset by a credit against the fuel-adjustment surcharge that's levied on the power they produce from gas or coal.
I did the math, or at least as much math as I could do based on two weeks' worth of billing at the new place, and I decided to buy six of the 100-kW units, which will cost me about $3.60 a month, save me about $2.35 in fuel adjustments at the current rate, and, says the utility, reduce emissions of Nasty Gases by four and a half tons.
It's hard to see any downside to this program. Granted, there are summer days in Oklahoma when the temperature is around 100 degrees and there isn't enough wind to motivate a tumbleweed, let alone spin a turbine, but my A/C doesn't care where the amps come from. And from my political point of view, it's still a boon: it's an environmental gesture that will actually accomplish something without a great deal of lifestyle adjustment, the Saudis don't make a dime off it, and if some passing bird is shredded over Woodward, it will annoy PETA. For a buck and a quarter a month, it's a hell of a deal.