Harnessing the Wind | OEC News

The partnership between Oklahoma Electric Cooperative and Bergey Windpower Co. empowers a sustainable future

A powerful force is at work in the vast expanse of Oklahoma’s prairies, shaping the future of energy generation. While co-ops at the local and national levels advocate for an all-of-the-above approach to energy production, Oklahoma, with its sweeping landscapes and consistently strong winds, has been a critical player in renewable energy for the past decade, particularly wind power. Now, members who are interested in installing back-up power at their homes or businesses can take advantage of that wind power while helping OEC conduct beneficial research for our fellow electric cooperatives.

OEC is partnering with Norman-based residential turbine manufacturer Bergey Windpower Co. and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to pioneer advancements in microgrids, allowing individuals and sections of the grid to remain powered during a largescale outage, which will benefit OEC’s members and cooperatives throughout the region. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Oklahoma witnessed remarkable growth from 10% to 45% of its in-state electricity generation from renewable resources from 2011 to 2021. In 2021, wind energy accounted for approximately 91% of the state’s renewable energy production. As the landscape of energy consumption continues to evolve, OEC is partnering with Bergey Windpower Co. to prepare cautiously for the future.

“It is not about replacing, but complementing the traditional power generation and distribution infrastructure,” said Manager of System Engineering Nick Shumaker. “We hope this renewable microgrid research will mean a more reliable power system in the long run.”

The Science Behind Wind Power

To comprehend the impressive impact of wind power, it is essential to understand how nature’s invisible force is harnessed and transformed into electricity. Wind turbines, towering structures with sleek blades, are the focal point of this transformation. The wind turns the propeller-like blades of a turbine around a rotor. This rotation drives an internal generator, producing electricity subsequently transmitted to power grids.

When envisioning wind turbines, most people imagine the huge, white structures that have become a common site across Oklahoma’s plains. These formidable machines are typically owned and maintained by power generation companies such as OEC’s wholesale power provider Western Farmers Electric Cooperative, seemingly beyond the average consumer’s grasp. But what if they weren’t?

Bergey Windpower Co.is a crucial player in the residential wind turbine manufacturing realm. The company has a rich history in the wind turbine industry, known for its world-renowned turbines. The company initially gained recognition by introducing the Bergey Excel 10 kW turbine, which revolutionized the market with its innovative design comprising only three moving parts and extended service intervals, said co-founder and president of Bergey, Michael Bergey.

“Our primary focus is quality turbines that can provide large amounts of reliable power to a home grid-tie system,” Bergey said.

Building upon this success, Bergey recently launched the Bergey Excel 15. With its cutting-edge technology, carbon fiber blades, 31-foot rotor diameter, and a mere two moving parts, the Excel 15 surpasses most 20 kW turbines available in the market, Bergey said.

Wind Power as Back-Up Power

In this spirit, OEC has joined forces with Bergey Windpower Co. to explore new frontiers in wind power. The new Bergey Excel 15 turbine uses complex technology called microgrids. Utilizing state-of-the-art silicon carbide switches, these microgrids can operate in grid-following mode, which shuts down during power outages, and in isolated mode, in which the turbine continues to power the home during an outage but is isolated from the grid at large to ensure the safety of linemen during maintenance, Bergey said.

“This microgrid technology offers the potential for homeowners and businesses to have backup power, addressing the need for power reliability in situations such as fires or tornadoes that can cause prolonged outages,” Bergey said. “Collaborating with partners like OEC, the focus is on providing power surety and reliability, recognizing the importance of uninterrupted power supply to individuals and businesses.”

This innovative collaboration aims to develop groundbreaking reliability solutions and by working with the DOE, this resaerch can be used nationwide, Shumaker said.

“Advancements like this take a village,” Shumaker said. “It’s why we’re happy to partner with Bergey Windpower and the Department of Energy so we can send what we find to the greater community of cooperatives and utilities.”

By leveraging the expertise of Bergey Windpower Co. and the extensive resources of OEC, this partnership is propelling the growth of renewable energy and driving technological advancements.

As Oklahoma harnesses its winds to power a sustainable future, the partnership between OEC and Bergey stands at the forefront of this renewable energy transformation. With Oklahoma’s prairies as their canvas, OEC and Bergey Windpower Co. are painting a greener, brighter future.

For more information, contact our renewables experts at (405) 321-2024.

Share this article

Read more articles from the Co-op News:

One Tree At a Time | OEC News

Learn how to strategically place trees for energy savings with tips from OEC, one of the only two certified Tree Line USA Utility electric cooperatives in Oklahoma. Since 2016, more than 1,200 free trees have been given away. Find out how you can take part!

Read More »
Follow us!
Skip to content