KIOWA COUNTY, Okla. (OBV) — Amazon will invest in the construction of a solar farm in Oklahoma, its first solar farm in the Sooner State.
The world’s largest online retailer has invested in 479 solar and wind farms across the globe, and is now backing the development of a solar farm in Kiowa County, Okla., according to an Amazon official who spoke with Oklahoma Business Voice.
Though this will be Amazon’s first solar farm in Oklahoma, the company has three other renewable energy projects in the state, which include wind farms in Caddo, Pontotoc and Beaver counties. The combined renewable energy projects will be capable of generating 618 MW of clean energy capacity.
The four projects will provide power to Amazon’s local operations, which include fulfilment centers, sortation centers and delivery stations, and also provide clean energy to the local communities where the projects are located, according to an Amazon news release.
“At Amazon, we’re constantly seeking innovative ways to bring more solar and wind projects online, both to power our operations, and to bring new sources of clean energy to the communities where our customers live and work,” said Nat Sahlstrom, head of energy, water and sustainability for Amazon Web Services (AWS). “These projects are also helping create jobs, support local businesses and boost the local tax base, which are all part of Amazon’s broader commitment to become a more sustainable company.”
Amazon officials said their clean energy projects have been an economic boon for Oklahoma, generating an estimated $546 million in local economic investment, and adding $193 million to the total gross domestic product (GDP) from 2014 through 2022.
The state’s workforce has also benefitted from the renewable energy projects, which have supported an estimated 735 full-time equivalent jobs in Oklahoma in 2022.
“In general, solar and wind projects can help create jobs, support local businesses, and boost the local tax base, which are all part of Amazon’s broader commitment to become a more sustainable company. This includes workers being hired to help manage the projects, and increasing business at nearby hotels, restaurants, and retail stores,” the Amazon official said to OBV.
Amazon is using long-term contracts known as Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), through which Amazon commits to purchasing the electricity produced from future renewable energy projects, which Amazon officials said enable wind and solar farm developers to raise funds, purchase equipment and construct projects without directly costing local energy users.
“These PPAs also generate economic activity in the communities where the projects are located, resulting in workers being hired to help manage the projects, and increasing business at nearby hotels, restaurants and retail stores,” Amazon officials said.
Amazon aims for its operations to be 100 percent renewable energy reliant by 2025. The company originally planned to achieve the goal by 2030.
The company’s 479 solar and wind farms are expected to generate more than 71,000 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of clean energy annually, which can power 6.7 million homes.
Ninety percent of the electricity used to power Amazon operations were from renewable energy resources, as of the end of 2022, company officials said.