By D.E. Smoot
Phoenix Staff Writer
An Oklahoma-based electric utility earned recognition last week for its green-power programs.
The U.S. Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory ranked Oklahoma Gas & Electric among the nation’s Top 10 utilities promoting “green power.” The ranking is based upon total sales of renewable energy and customer participation among other factors.
The Edison Electric Institute also honored OG&E with its Edison Award, the industry’s most prestigious honor. OG&E was chosen for its successful implementation of smart-grid technology and its innovative customer programs designed to reduce peak-load demands and customer costs while increasing energy efficiency.
“What you are seeing is our growth in wind power and the options available to our customers,” said Brian Alford, a spokesman for the Oklahoma City-based company. “Now, we have been able to reduce our costs to customers who want to participate in the program.”
Alford said the company’s renewable energy options along with its implementation of smart-grid technology helps the company’s goal of postponing until 2020 the addition of any new fossil-fuel-based generation facilities.
Jenny Heeter, an NREL analyst, said green-power programs allow consumers the option to support renewable energy projects. OG&E’s renewable energy program ranked among the NREL’s Top 10 list based on its total sales of green power to program participants.
“Participating in utility green-power programs allows consumers to support renewable energy above and beyond what utilities are procuring to comply with state renewable portfolio standards,” Heeter said. “These (Top 10) utilities are offering first-rate programs that give their customers an opportunity to support renewable energy deployment.”
OG&E was granted the Edison Award based upon its rollout of a demand-management plan, which lets customers take control of summer utility costs. Alford said smart-meter technology allows customers to reduce consumption during peak-demand hours and costs.
“This has the potential for customers to save quite a bit of money, especially during the summer months,” Alford said, noting an average savings of $200 during the four hottest months of the year. “Our ability to put more information into the customer’s hand lets them become better managers of the energy use and costs.”
EEI President Tom Kuhn, in a press release announcing the Edison Award recipient, commended OG&E’s “vision of a more energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable future enabled by technology.” Kuhn also cited the Oklahoma electric utility’s increased use of wind energy and customer participation in as reasons supporting the award.
Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or firstname.lastname@example.org.