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Renewable Energy Frequently Asked Questions

Renewable energy, or distributed generation (DG), refers to the generation of electricity by small-scale facilities. DG systems are located at or near where the electricity is being used and are designed to replace or supplement traditional, central station power plants. DG is not always connected to OEC’s distribution system; however, the most common types of DG in Oklahoma – solar and wind – are almost always interconnected.

 

In short, very. Our generation and transmission supplier, Western Farmers Electric Cooperative invests heavily in renewable energy. As such, our percentage of energy provided by renewable energy sources like solar, wind or hydro is between 37-50%.

 

OEC allows, and encourages, interconnection of all types of DG, especially renewable choices that help conserve our natural resources. We have requirements in place to address issues of safety, grid integrity and cost fairness. Those requirements ensure the cooperative can (1) protect the safety of customers and cooperative employees; (2) maintain the integrity of the grid; and (3) establish mechanisms to ensure each customer shares appropriately in the costs. Below is a list of Q&As, copies of OEC’s DG procedures and guidelines manual and application, and a list of external links to resourceful websites.

 

The main difference is that DG is small, customer-owned equipment that provides power to the customer in parallel with OEC’s system. A wind farm is a collection of very big wind generators connected to the transmission system. OEC does not own any transmission line (it only distributes power) and, therefore, is not directly involved in wind farms.

Unfortunately, OEC’s service territory is not where power suppliers are currently looking to place wind farms. OEC’s power supplier, Western Farmers Electric Cooperative, owns several wind farms throughout Oklahoma. WFEC, as well as other power suppliers, carefully select wind farm locations based upon a number of factors and only then do they contact landowners in order to get the generators built.

Both initial capital costs and operations and maintenance costs can vary significantly depending on the project size. A residential DG system designed to supply 100% of one’s power requirements is rarely an economically sound investment.

OEC does not closely monitor state and federal DG tax policy. However, the Database of State Incentives for Renewable & Efficiency (DSIRE) contains a wealth of information:www.dsireusa.org(link is external).

Yes. OEC buys power in two ways: Net Metering and Power Export. Net Metering is offered for systems 300 kW and smaller. Systems with an installed capacity greater than 125% of the member’s peak load may be excluded from Net Metering. Power Export is offered for systems 300 kW to 3 MW systems. Power Export is where OEC will install a separate meter and buy back power at the wholesale rate.

Net metering allows an electric meter to turn – or, if digital, count – backwards when an on-site generator produces more energy than is being used. For example, if a DG system produces 1,000 kWh and a residence uses 1,800 kWh in a given month, the meter will only show 800 kWh used. Therefore, the bill will be for only 800 kWh. If the DG system produced the full usage of 1800 kWh, OEC will bill only the service availability charge. In short, Net Metering means OEC essentially buys back power at the retail rate as long as the DG system doesn’t produce more power than is used during the billing period.

Should your DG system generate more electricity than you use during the month, the energy will be credited at the Cooperative’s avoided energy cost. The Cooperative’s avoided energy cost shall be the Cooperative’s Power Supplier’s avoided cost as determined by the Cooperative’s Power Supplier. The avoided cost shall be calculated periodically, as provided by the Cooperative’s Power Supplier.  The current avoided cost can be found at https://www.wfec.com/avoided-energy-cost.

Since OEC’s distribution system and DG systems operate as parallel power sources, the DG system must be the same voltage as OEC’s service. For residential accounts, this is almost always single-phase, 120/240V 60 Hz.

If OEC loses power, the DG system should shut down. If the DG system remained in service, it would actually back-feed and energize OEC’s line, a very dangerous and potentially deadly situation for OEC linemen.

All equipment for DG systems that are Net-Metered are on the member’s side of the meter; therefore, OEC is not directly involved with the installation. OEC does require:

  1. Member to submit form application;
  2. Member to furnish certification from manufacturer or engineering firm that equipment meets IEEE 1547 and other applicable codes and standards;
  3. Member to use an Oklahoma licensed electrician/electrical contractor per city codes;
  4. Installation of a separate, lockable, OEC-accessible safety disconnect;
  5. Execution of a contract between OEC and the member;
  6. Additional Engineering as needed;

OEC requires the DG system to comply with all applicable laws, ordinances, rules and regulations of any federal, county, state and/or local authority, including, but not limited to: the most recent IEEE Standard 1547 Guide for Distributed Generation Interconnection and applicable ANSI Standards, including ANSI C84.1 Range A, relating to installation, safety, easements, code restrictions, operation and other matters.

OEC/WFEC DG Procedures and Guidelines Manual – a procedures and guidelines manual developed by WFEC, OEC’s power supplier, and adopted by OEC.

American Wind Energy Association – the national trade association for the U.S. wind industry

SolarBuzz – for the latest news, research findings and industry trends

Oklahoma Wind Power Initiative – investigates and promotes wind energy in Oklahoma

U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

Database of State Incentives for Renewable & Efficiency (DSIRE) – a comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the U.S.

OEC WindWorks Information