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Powerful Living


Here Comes the Sun L 6


Co-ops Step Up the Solar Game The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)


reports 3.7 MW of solar capacity were installed in Oklahoma in 2015, a 526 percent increase over 2014. As of April 2016, the state of Oklahoma had 5.2 MW of solar energy installed, ranking the Sooner State as 45th in the country in installed solar capacity. (As you read this arti- cle it will be helpful to note that 1 megawatt or MW is equal to 1,000 kilowatts (kW) and one


kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts.) As a new year begins, electric cooperatives are set to change Oklahoma’s national ranking, adding over 20 MW to the state’s existing solar power capacity. This additional, cooperative-led capacity is a game changer for Oklahoma, adding to the di- versity of fuel sources for power generation. The effort to add 20-plus MW is spearheaded


by generation and transmission cooperative, Western Farmers Electric Cooperative (WFEC),


Electric cooperatives of Oklahoma add solar to power generation mix By Anna Politano


eroy Higginbotham will be 82 years old in February 2017. In the 1940s, his father, known by the initials “JH,” helped set up poles by hand for Kiamichi Electric Cooperative in eastern Oklahoma during the rural electrifi cation movement that powered rural America. A retired professional surveyor and certifi ed engineer, Higginbotham calls Haskell, Okla., his home of 50 years. He is a proud member of East Central


Oklahoma Electric Cooperative (ECOEC) based in Okmulgee, Okla. When his co-op surveyed the membership about their interest in a community solar farm, Higginbotham and his wife, Karen, were the fi rst to raise their hands. It came as no surprise that when ECOEC announced the opportunity to subscribe for solar panels at their up-and- coming community solar site, the Higginbothams were the fi rst ones to subscribe. “We are community minded. We like the idea of clean energy; it’s a good way to serve the environment,” Higginbotham said. “If I had to install panels on my house, it would cost a large sum and I would be responsible for maintaining them. I like that my co-op is taking care of the maintenance and upkeep. It also benefi ts my monthly electric bill with a credit.”


based in Anadarko, Okla. WFEC supplies the electrical needs of 17 member cooperatives in Oklahoma, along with Altus Air Force Base, plus four cooperatives in New Mexico. By January 2017 the co-op will complete the addition of fi ve utility-scale sites and 13 community solar sites (see Page 7 for community solar locations). “The efforts put forth by Western Farmers Electric Cooperative in substantially increasing the installed solar capacity as a state showcase


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