The company's energy portfolio includes natural gas, coal, hydro and wind.
VINITA — The diversity of the Grand River Dam Authority’s portfolio is creating dividends for many of its customers. That is one of the continued goals in 2018 for GRDA Chief Executive Officer Dan Sullivan.
“The diversity of our portfolio furthers our goal of being a low-cost provider,” Sullivan said.
The company’s energy portfolio includes natural gas, coal, hydro and wind.
“No other utility in this area has the diversity of generation resources that GRDA has,” Sullivan said. “What we have in place now is going to be very beneficial for our customers for the years ahead.”
Directly or indirectly, GRDA electricity reaches into 75 of 77 counties in Oklahoma as well as Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas.
Sullivan praised the GRDA’s new 60-hertz power plant, which came online in October. The $500 million combined cycle unit at the Grand River Energy Center near Chouteau burns Oklahoma natural gas and has been recognized as the most efficient unit of its kind in the world, he said.
“We know its output will benefit our ratepayers and the state of Oklahoma for years to come,” Sullivan said.
Another part of the portfolio is wind. In November, the GRDA announced the agency’s contract with Google for 140 megawatts of energy.
Red Dirt Wind Farm, a 300-megawatt plant in Kingfisher and Logan counties, will supply the power. GRDA also has a power-purchase agreement with the Canadian Hills Wind Farm.
Sullivan said the GRDA has generation sources to match its load profile with low-cost options.
Oklahoma’s average retail rate to the end user is competitive compared to other states, with only Louisiana and Washington having a lower average retail price, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
“Overall, GRDA’s rates range from 20 to 45 percent lower than the national average,” Sullivan said.
Residents in the 15 Oklahoma municipalities served by the GRDA pay nearly 15 percent less than those whose homes are powered by investor-owned utilities, he said.
“Currently, natural gas prices are lower than coal, so it is less expensive to generate with gas than with coal,” Sullivan said. “As prices fluctuate, we can call on different resources to match market conditions.”
The GRDA also wants to help its customer communities with their economic development, he said.
“When they (customer communities) are successful, we are successful, and, in turn, all of Oklahoma can benefit,” Sullivan said.
Ultimately, the goal for 2018 is being an “Oklahoma agency of excellence,” he said.
The GRDA doesn’t expect to expand services in 2018 but rather to continue enhancing what the agency has been doing — producing electricity, boosting economic development and caring for natural resources, he said.
The GRDA’s mission statement is built around the letter “E.”
“The 5 E’s of excellence are employees, electricity, environmental stewardship, economic development and efficiency,” Sullivan said.
Efficiency is the driver for everything the GRDA does, he said, and the utility will continue to look at its operations and ensure that it is as efficient as possible.
The GRDA has transformed its workplace culture in recent years and brought a new focus to safety and training, he said.
The relicensing of the Pensacola Project is also a top priority for Sullivan.
The project covers the Pensacola Dam and Grand Lake, and all of the GRDA’s hydro projects fall under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license, which expires in 2022.
“We are going to focus much of our time and energy in that effort in the year ahead, working with FERC, other stakeholders and resource agencies to secure a new license for this important part of our overall generation portfolio,” Sullivan said.
In August, FERC approved the GRDA’s request to no longer be required to lower Grand Lake’s level each summer.
“Protecting our water resources and producing power in an environmentally responsible way is our mission,” Sullivan said.
The next opportunity for GRDA customers likely will involve solar projects, Sullivan said.