Renewable Energy Policy in Oklahoma

December 2023
Izzy Beshouri**, Natalia Harris**, Jenna Stolzman**, University of Michigan

Over the last two decades, the state of Oklahoma has undergone a significant transition in its electricity generation mix. Notably, wind energy has emerged as a prominent source, contributing 44% of the state’s total net generation in 2022. Following a steep increase in wind energy deployment over the last 10 years, Oklahoma is now the third-largest wind power producer in the United States. Natural gas is another major player in Oklahoma’s electricity mix and has charted a steady and significant rise since 2022.1 By contrast, coal’s share of electricity generation followed a sharp decline, dropping from 63% share of net electricity generation in 2001 to 10% in 2022. Additional renewable resources, including hydropower, biomass, and solar, have made contributions to in-state generation over this period. 

Oklahoma has brought several large-scale wind energy projects online in the last two years, reinforcing the state’s dependence on wind power generation. The state also has a small but increasing focus on utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) installations. Across its portfolio, the state regularly produces more energy than it can consume, which allows for adjacent states to receive excess energy transmission. Within the electricity sector, industrial and transportation uses account for the majority of total energy consumption, while residents consume less than 20% of the electricity pot.

Oklahoma’s electricity sector consists of both investor-owned and municipal utilities, as well as several rural electric cooperatives. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) holds the primary authority in regulating public utilities in the state, but their jurisdiction does not extend to utilities under municipal or federal authority. The OCC's regulatory domain encompasses three investor-owned utilities and five cooperatives that voluntarily agree to regulatory oversight. Municipal systems and cooperatives can opt-out and remain outside the Commission's regulatory scope. This optionality makes Oklahoma’s renewable energy policy landscape a bit of a "choose your own adventure.”