Corporation Commissioner: Oklahoma must remain an 'all of the above' energy state

The Biden administration’s Environmental Protection Agency recently announced new emission standards that require coal and natural gas-fired power plants to cut or capture the vast majority of their carbon dioxide emissions by 2040. The truth is that these new regulations aim to shut down fossil fuel-fired power plants, regardless of the impacts on the nation’s power grid. Oklahomans should be worried about this federal overreach because it will increase the cost to produce energy, decrease reliability of our grid, and ultimately cause utility bills to increase.

Protecting our environment and having clean air is vitally important; however, this cannot happen overnight or even over a few years. This type of action must be balanced with energy security and reliability. As a net-exporter of energy, Oklahoma is the heartland of reliable power for our region. Oklahoma is the fourth-largest producer of wind power in the country, which as of March 2023 made up 44% of our generation capacity. While our state song proudly proclaims, “where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain,” unfortunately, there are times when the wind cannot power our entire grid. Therefore, natural gas and coal must remain part of our baseload generation capacity.

In Oklahoma, there are 28 natural gas plants that in March 2023 produced 43% of our generation capacity. Our vast supply of natural gas ensures we will have reliable and affordable power options that are capable of operating when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine.

Additionally, there are eight coal plants that produce roughly 10% of our generation capacity. Eliminating coal would create catastrophic consequences without replacing it with other reliable baseload generation. Recently, all commissioners on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, both Democratic and Republican appointees, agreed we cannot eliminate coal today or in the near future if we want to have a reliable electric grid. I agree with the FERC commissioners that coal must remain part of our generation mix for the foreseeable future.

While adding clean power options such as wind and solar to the grid is important, we need to keep all options on the table. The Inflation Reduction Act Clean Energy Tax Package expanded access to clean energy and energy efficiency. As this intermittent energy production continues to come online, it will be critical for Oklahoma to keep natural gas and coal power plants for stability on the grid.

Another path to diversify our state’s energy portfolio is to establish a hydrogen hub through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs Program. Producing blue hydrogen from our natural gas industry is critical to ensuring a strong future for a state’s economy. At the same time, producing green hydrogen from our renewable resources must be involved, too.

The EPA’s new proposed standards show this administration’s commitment to an ideology that overshadows their responsibility to ensure long-lasting energy and economic security. As a regulator of Oklahoma’s utility companies, I will do everything in my power to ensure that Oklahoma remains an “all of the above” energy producer of safe, reliable and affordable power.

Kim David
Kim David

Kim David, of Porter, is an elected member of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Commissioner: Oklahoma must remain an 'all of the above' energy state