The King of Beers has helped Enel become Oklahoma’s king of wind. The wind energy producer’s U.S. subsidiary, Enel Green Power North America, announced this month it became the Sooner State’s largest wind energy producer after activating its Thunder Ranch and Red Dirt wind farms.
The company helped pay for building both facilities through power-purchase agreements made by two well-known firms, including Anheuser-Busch, the U.S. subsidiary of AB InBev.
The power purchase agreement Anheuser-Busch made with Enel commits the brewer to buying 152.5 megawatts of power daily (610 gigawatts, annually) from the grid, which Anheuser-Busch said is enough renewable electricity for it to produce more than 20 billion, 12-ounce servings of beer a year. Plus, Anheuser-Bush is acquiring renewable energy credits associated with Thunder Ranch. Anheuser-Busch officials said the deal will meet up to 50 percent of its daily energy requirements in the U.S.
“As we strive to bring people together to build a better world, we at Anheuser-Busch are dedicated to reducing our carbon emissions,” Joao Castro Neves, its president and CEO, stated as part of a news release announcing the deal. “Helping to grow the renewable energy market is not only good for the environment, it is a strategic business move as we strive for long-term sustainability.”
Thunder Ranch, Red Dirt details
It cost Enel about $435 million to build the Thunder Ranch wind farm in Garfield, Kay and Noble counties. The facility has a capacity of about 298 megawatts, and will be able to generate more than 1,100 gigawatts annually (enough power about 90,000 households). Enel officials said Thunder Ranch also is the first wind farm belonging to Enel that will use a rooftop solar system to power its operations and maintenance building.
The Red Dirt wind farm in Kingfisher and Logan counties cost Enel about $420 million to build that project, the company said.
It has a 300 megawatt capacity, and will be able to generate more than 1,200 gigawatts annually (again, enough power to also enough to power about 90,000 households), officials said. That operation is supported by two long-term power purchase agreements it has with T-Mobile US and the Grand River Dam Authority.
McGrail said Enel commissioned its first Oklahoma wind project in 2012 when it opened its Rocky Ridge development.
He said the company was attracted to the state by its wind, by its communities and by its regulatory environment.
While the regulatory landscape has changed, somewhat — Oklahoma has eliminated some wind-related tax breaks the industry initially had enjoyed — McGrail said Enel’s staff and contractors were able to make refinements to these latest projects to keep them economically viable.
“We made a commitment to landowners and communities for our Red Dirt and Thunder Ranch projects,” he said. “We found a way to make them work, despite the regulatory changes.