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Solar energy farm built near Cyril

(Source WFEC) (Source WFEC)

CYRIL, OK (KSWO) - A new $10 million solar farm has popped up just west of Cyril that will soon provide a clean renewable source of energy to thousands living in Southwest Oklahoma.

This farm is owned by Western Farmers Electric Cooperative (WFEC). It features 19,000 solar panels and is just one of a handful of solar farms across Oklahoma.

They are still a couple weeks away from being up and running but when they begin selling power, it will be sold to several smaller energy companies across the state, who will then supply the power to us.

As the sun rises each morning, these panels will be facing east, then as it moves over the top of them, they'll slowly turn, ultimately ending the day facing west with the sunset. The power from the panels will stay local.

"This is staying right here in Oklahoma, it will be consumed by rural member coop consumers across the state,” said Brian Hobbs, Vice President of Legal and Corporate Services for WFEC.

WFEC owns the solar farm and all the energy it creates but will sell that energy to smaller energy companies around the state, which include Cotton Electric Cooperative, Harmon Electric Association and Southwest Rural Electric Association, right here in Southwest Oklahoma.

“In Oklahoma, the best solar resource are in the Southwest corner of the state. It's manageable in other areas but the southern and southwest corridor is one of the better solar resources,” Hobbs said.

Oklahoma's abundance of sun and flat land make solar energy an easy and convenient choice, but there are some drawbacks.

"You don't have to bring a pipeline in or haul a truckload of oil or a train load of coal in,” said John Toland, Principle Resource Planning Engineer for WFEC. “But on the other hand, as soon as a cloud comes over, the power will drop off. It doesn't drop off completely during the day but it can be intermittent, if you get heavy clouds it will not put out a whole lot."

The solar energy collected will be mixed in with other forms of energy like wind, coal, natural gas and hydropower, before being sold to smaller companies.

Solar energy has not been that popular in Oklahoma, but Hobbs said there is a very simple reason for that.

"Solar has just never really made good economic sense until recently,” Hobbs said. “The prices of the technology has come down significantly, the efficiency of the technology has improved."

Hobbs said he thinks we're on the cusp of a solar energy boom in Oklahoma.

"We think solar today is probably where wind was 15 or 20 years ago, really on the verge of taking off and seeing quite a bit of growth,” Hobbs said.

The solar farm in Cyril is just one of five in Oklahoma that will be open in the next couple weeks. The other four are in Tuttle, Pine Ridge, Hinton and Marietta.

Copyright 2017 KSWO. All rights reserved.

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