The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), together with the American Public Power Association (APPA), has recognized the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority (OMPA) and Silicon Valley Power (SVP) as the winners of the 2014 Public Power Wind Awards.
The DOE says the awards, presented at the APPA National Conference in Denver, are granted to publicly owned utilities that demonstrate outstanding leadership in advancing wind power in the U.S. Together, OMPA and SVP join 17 other utilities that have received this award over the past 12 years.
According to the DOE, Santa Clara, Calif.-based SVP received the award in the public power utility category for its 30-year, sustained commitment to acquiring, developing and integrating wind energy.
Instead of regularly utilizing hydro-generated power to serve day-to-day needs, SVP says it has access to as much as 200 MW of wind energy. Tapping that power when it is available allows SVP to preserve water levels at its hydroelectric reservoirs for use when electricity demand spikes during heat waves.
In 1982, SVP invested in a 20 MW wind farm on Altamount Pass in the East Bay. Subsequent long-term investments with Iberdrola Renewables, the latest in 2012, also bring in power from the Big Horn wind project in Washington and the Manzana wind project in Southern California.
"Wind and water are two of our cleanest and cheapest sources of electricity," comments John Roukema, director of SVP. "Wind power helps Santa Clara keep electric rates among the lowest in the state and helps make up for the scarcity of hydroelectric power in a drought year."
According to the DOE, SVP provides its customers with renewable energy at the lowest average rate in the state of California. As of 2012, SVP's power mix was 13.8% wind energy, far above the state average of 5%.
"We recognize our responsibility to provide efficient, clean and reliable energy to our community at rates up to 45 percent lower than those in neighboring cities," adds Roukema.
OMPA, a consumer-owned public power entity that serves 39 municipally owned electric systems, received the award for steadily building its renewable energy portfolio in an effort to support its members' green power initiatives.
More than a decade ago, OMPA became the first commercial power company to offer wind power to municipal customers in Oklahoma and, in 2011, purchased more than 49 MW of wind generating capacity, bringing the company's wind energy generation to 14% of its total annual power production. Additionally, the DOE says OMPA has demonstrated creativity in its approach to integrating wind energy into its portfolio.Â Â