Oklahoma wind power may not make most consumers think of beer, but one of the world’s best-known brewers is hoping to change that with a commercial tied to the state’s electric co-op country.
Anheuser-Busch is using part of the 300-MW Thunder Ranch Wind Project near Billings as the backdrop for one of several commercials during Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3.
“We felt there was no better way to show up this year than to talk about our commitment to renewable electricity,” said Ricardo Marques, vice president of marketing core and value brands at Anheuser-Busch.
Anheuser-Busch buys 100 percent of the output from the privately owned Thunder Ranch project. But the 60,000-acre facility is located in portions of three Oklahoma counties served by four distribution co-ops, and its 120 turbines are a familiar sight to the co-op members living in the area.
Reliable winds make the region one of the most productive renewable energy producers in the country, and electric cooperatives have a long history with tapping this key resource.
“We’ve added 615 megawatts of wind in Oklahoma, all through power purchase agreements since 2003,” said Gary Roulet, CEO of Western Farmers Electric Cooperative, the Anadarko, Oklahoma-based G&T that provides wholesale power to 21 distribution cooperatives in parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas and Kansas.
“Renewable projects have no carbon, but offer a low and long-term fixed cost, which is good for rates and a long-term hedge against natural gas or market price increases.”
That’s paid off for its distribution co-ops and their consumer-members through fixed wholesale power costs and a good chance of lower rates in the future as more low-cost wind and solar power come available.
“Even though oil and gas and wind are competitors, they complement each other in use of land for a project,” said Roulet, adding that they are creating multiple revenue streams for some landowners. “Wind farms leave the land usable for farming and ranching, despite the construction of a number of wind turbines.”
And that’s one of the messages Anheuser-Busch hopes to get across to viewers with the commercial. It features music by Bob Dylan, a Dalmatian, a beer wagon, a team of the company’s signature Clydesdale draft horses and its familiar Budweiser brand.
“We are proud to be the first Anheuser-Busch brand and the first major beer brand to be brewed with 100 percent renewable electricity from wind power,” said Marques. “Hopefully we can use this moment to inspire others in our pursuit for a more sustainable future.”
Derrill Holly is a staff writer at NRECA