Alumni harness untapped wind energy in Oklahoma panhandle
MechSE alumni Jeff Veazie (BSME ’04) and Emily Paice (BSME ’12) are working to build what will be the largest wind farm in America, and the second largest in the world. Veazie, Director of Development, and Paice, Senior Project Engineer, work for the renewable energy company Invenergy, LLC.
Invenergy specializes in four clean energy fronts including solar and wind farms, natural gas plants, and advanced energy storage. The company recently launched its Wind Catcher Energy Connection project, a mission to build an 800-turbine wind farm in the Oklahoma panhandle—an area of the state with a lot of wind but that is very far away from the larger cities and communities that could benefit from wind energy.
Veazie joined Invenergy as a project engineer eleven years ago, after working as a field follow engineer at Caterpillar. He worked on several Invenergy wind farms before Wind Catcher was launched.
“I was excited to have the opportunity to work on such an impactful project,” Veazie said.
Paice became interested in wind energy while working as a sales engineer at The Timken Company. After joining Invenergy in 2015, she began working on wind farm projects while also becoming involved with the Invenergy Women’s Network (IWN) and Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy (WRISE) communities.
“Both groups have allowed me the opportunity to help empower women in industry and foster an environment where diversity and inclusion are both encouraged and respected,” Paice said.
The Wind Catcher facility is projected to bring wind power to over 1.1 million customers in the south central United States, including Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. Construction began in 2016 and will continue to the end of 2020, at which time all 800 turbines are expected to be operational.
“It’s very exciting to work on a project that can help the local community with tax dollars and royalty payments, and decrease electrical costs to consumers, all while helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Veazie said.
“I have found that the support of the entire Wind Catcher team has been key to the success of this project,” Paice said. “We have created a collaborative and energetic environment, and I am proud to work alongside such bright and dedicated individuals.”
Photo, at top: Drone image aerial view of the Wind Catcher facility site. 98-99% of the land within the facility site project area will remain in agricultural use during construction and operation.