Western Farmers Electric Cooperative boosts renewable energy capacity

Battery storage will make wind and solar electricity available when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining

One of Oklahoma’s biggest electric co-ops is boosting capacity with the purchase of 200 megawatts of battery-stored energy that will increase its generating fleet to more than 3 gigawatts.

Western Farmers Electric Cooperative (WFEC) said the project will boost the amount of reliable, low-cost and environmentally friendly energy it provides its customers.

CEO Gary Roulet said: “With the prices of wind and solar energy lower than ever, we are now able to pair those with battery storage to make more affordable, renewable energy available to customers for more hours of the day – even when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.”

Phil Schaeffer, the co-op’s principal resource planning engineer, added: “Wind has the tendency to blow during night times, while solar generates its energy during the day. We are really hoping to see how battery storage interacts with that whole profile. Hopefully, that will translate to better grid stability.”

The power purchase agreement between WFEC and NextEra cements plans to complete what it claims as the largest combined wind, solar and energy storage project in the USA.

NextEra’s project is called Skeleton Creek and will be located in the Garfield, Alfalfa and Major counties of Oklahoma. Its first phase will have the capacity to generate 250 megawatts of wind energy when it comes online at the end of this year. The solar phase, along with the 200 MW of storage will become operational in 2023.

Based in the city of Anadarko, WFEC was formed in 1941 and includes 21 distributive co-operatives, as well as the Altus Air Force BaseThe co-operative signed its first power purchase agreement for about 74MW of wind power with developers of the Blue Canyon Wind Farm near Lawton in 2003. It added its first solar power in 2016.