Gulf Power to add wind power from Oklahoma

Gulf Power is expanding its wind energy output. The company filed a petition Monday asking the Florida Public Service Commission to approve adding 94 megawatts of wind energy from the Kingfisher Wind farm in Oklahoma.

The diversification of the energy sources that Northwest Florida customers use to power their homes means less price fluctuations as a result of natural disasters like hurricanes or extreme heat or cold.

“I for one don’t want us to forget that those price spikes can happen,” said Stan W. Connally Jr., Gulf Power chairman, president and CEO. “Our customers are happiest when the price of our product is stable. A balanced portfolio with diverse fuels is our way of doing that.”

The original Kingfisher Wind project went online in January and has been producing 178 megawatts of wind-generated energy. Gulf Power is seeking approval of a second agreement of that wind project that would add 94 megawatts of wind energy to its energy mix, for a total of 272 megawatts.

“Gulf Power is committed to renewable energy that makes economic sense for our customers,” Rick DelaHaya, a Gulf Power spokesman said in a written statement. “Our renewables team worked very hard to make these projects affordable. These smart renewables, like Kingfisher Wind, can actually put downward pressure on prices.”

The Kingfisher Wind project has 136 wind turbines capable of producing enough energy to power about 77,150 homes for a year.

Gulf Power is moving away from coal power and toward more natural gas and renewable energy sources.

In 2002, about 80 percent of Gulf Power’s energy came from coal and 20 percent from natural gas. This year, it is projecting that 75 percent will come from natural gas, 20 percent from coal and 5 percent from renewables, Connally said.

The hope is that next year, as Gulf Power’s military solar projects at Eglin Air Force Base, Saufley Field and Holley Field are completed, the share of renewables will climb closer to 10 percent.

The transition away from coal has been as a result of costly federal environmental regulations and low natural gas prices, Connally said.

Kingfisher is Gulf Power’s sixth renewable energy project following the Perdido Landfill Gas-to-Energy Facility, which has produced more than 100 million kilowatt hours of electricity since 2010.