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PSO looking to add up to 300 megawatts of Oklahoma wind power

Public Service Co. of Oklahoma is in the market for more wind power.

The Tulsa-based utility issued a request for proposal Wednesday for 100 to 300 megawatts of wind power to be produced in Oklahoma. The utility said projects must be a minimum of 80 megawatts and be ready for service by the end of 2018.

PSO last added wind capacity in 2013, when the utility went shopping for 200 megawatts but ended up buying 600 megawatts because of low prices.

The utility currently has long-term contracts with eight wind farms in Oklahoma totaling 1,137 megawatts. One megawatt can power about 250 homes.

“This RFP (request for proposal) is part of PSO’s ongoing effort to increase the use of low-cost, clean energy from a variety of resources – like natural gas and renewables,” said Steve Fate, vice president of regulatory and finance for PSO. “Oklahoma wind power currently provides about 20 percent of PSO’s energy, and we look forward to securing more low-cost wind power for our customers.”

PSO’s announcement came as the federal Energy Department released a report Wednesday on clean energy technologies such as wind, solar, electric vehicles and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Wind and solar accounted for more than two-thirds of all new electricity generating capacity installed last year in the United States. Helped by federal incentives and research and development investments, the cost of land-based wind fell 41 percent from 2008 to 2015, the report said. “We need to continue pushing the innovation agenda that leads to these kinds of dramatic cost reductions for all low-carbon technologies and increases America’s competitiveness and independence in the global clean energy economy,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a statement.

The Energy Department report said U.S. wind prices have reached all-time lows. In some regions of the country, long-term, power-purchase agreements for wind energy have fallen to an average of 2 cents per kilowatt-hour, down from 7 cents in 2009.

Incentive phase-down

Congress last year approved the extension and phase-down of the federal production tax credit for wind generation. The incentive offers a credit of 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated from wind for up to 10 years. Under the phase-down, the credit drops to 80 percent of its value in 2017, 60 percent in 2018 and 40 percent in 2019.

PSO has filed an application at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to get an independent evaluator to monitor the wind request for proposal and competitive bidding process.

The utility wants wind developers to submit proposals by Oct. 27 and expects to have contracts signed by January.