Wind power saved customers in Oklahoma more than $1.2 billion last year

A new analysis by the American Wind Energy Association looked at wind generation in the regional grid that includes Oklahoma and found consumers were saving money when wind turbines are used instead of fossil-fuel plants.

Wind power saved electricity customers in Oklahoma and surrounding states more than $1.2 billion last year, the American Wind Energy Association said Thursday.

The trade association analyzed hourly data from the Southwest Power Pool in 2013 and calculated when wind turbines were used to generate electricity.

The pool operates the electric grid and plans transmission for 6.2 million households in parts of nine states.

Since wind is free after the turbines are installed, most of the consumer savings came from avoided fuel costs at coal or natural gas plants. But the association said wind power also saved water and reduced emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

“It’s very clear that new wind energy being added to the Southwest Power Pool is providing very large net benefits for consumers,” said Michael Goggin, the wind association’s director of research. “That’s because the cost of wind has fallen dramatically in recent years.”

Wind farms provided an estimated $2.8 billion in societal benefits each year to the Southwest Power, the association said. About half of that was calculated using an Environmental Protection Agency tool to measure the economic benefits of reducing harmful emissions.

Goggin said the environmental benefits are even more important in the wake of an EPA proposal to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants 30 percent by 2030.

“I think that’s really important as states and regions are starting to think about how they’re going to comply with EPA’s Clean Power Plan,” Goggin said. “Wind energy is a very cost-effective way to cut emissions, particularly in a region like the Southwest Power Pool that has world-class wind resources.”