Tri-County Electric Cooperative (TCEC) today announced the results of an economic impact study, which shows transmission infrastructure upgrades in the Oklahoma Panhandle and surrounding areas created more than $440 million of economic benefits in the region. Prepared by Oklahoma Panhandle State University (OPSU), the study analyzed the infrastructure investments to the regional grid made by TCEC’s transmission partner, GridLiance High Plains LLC (GridLiance) between 2016 and 2019.
The study’s authors, OPSU Vice President of Outreach Ryan Blanton, Ph.D., and Assistant Professor of Agribusiness Abbas Aboohamidi, Ph.D., said, “By taking the total investment made by the cooperative and the utility, and modeling not only the direct but also the additional indirect and induced effects, we found that the total estimated economic impact was more than $440.3 million. This is a significantly larger benefit to the region than GridLiance’s investment of approximately $87.3 million. It’s the equivalent of a return in the community of over $5 for every $1 spent on this project.”
“This analysis is based on well-established economic principles and economic modeling software used to show the effect that economic activity, specifically the GridLiance upgrades, will have on a region’s overall economy,” added Dr. Blanton.
Zac Perkins, chief executive officer of TCEC, applauded the report, saying, “We are pleased to see in real dollars the benefits of these upgrades to our system for our members and the region’s overall economic health. We’re already hearing from new businesses interested in moving to this region, businesses that would otherwise not consider locating here, if the electric grid was not reliable. We all experienced the terrible power outages during the snow and ice storms of 2007 and 2017. Our primary goal at TCEC was to fortify the transmission grid to help reduce the frequency, duration, and magnitude of similar events in the future. Our partnership with GridLiance allowed us to do just that.”
Elected officials across the region have expressed their support for the transmission infrastructure improvements, with area counties, cities, and local chambers recognizing the economic benefits and passing resolutions in support of these upgrades.
State Senator Casey Murdock noted the significant economic benefits of this increased reliability to the region, saying, “Reliable transmission service not only helps attract new industry but also encourages existing companies to stay and potentially expand.”
State Representative Kenton Patzkowsky added, “These investments increase reliability and are one of the necessary precursors to bolstering economic growth. These benefits extend to agriculture, industry, healthcare, and commercial interests. It is impossible to overstate the importance of reliable electric service to this area, and we applaud TCEC and GridLiance for stepping in to help our local economy and the residents of the Panhandle.”
A number of existing commercial and agricultural businesses across the region have also expressed their appreciation, issuing strong letters of support.
Jada Breeden, the Executive Director of the Guymon Chamber of Commerce said, “When businesses are looking to move into a region, certain attributes and resources are vital, and one of those is reliable electric service. TCEC’s work with GridLiance not only injected significant dollars into the economy of the Oklahoma Panhandle but also results in the Panhandle being a more desirable location for attracting and retaining industry.”
Eric Depperschmidt of the Panhandle Regional Economic Development Coalition Inc. added, “PREDCI’s role is to promote industrial and economic development for all of the Oklahoma Panhandle region. Such promotion includes supporting long term planning and development of a continued reliable electric infrastructure. This new investment will assist with sustaining existing businesses and industry as well as recruiting new commerce into the Oklahoma Panhandle. The investments by TCEC and GridLiance into the Panhandle electric infrastructure will have a significant impact in the region and will assist with creating future economic opportunities.”
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About Tri-County Electric Cooperative: TCEC is a not-for-profit electric cooperative owned and controlled by its members. It serves approximately 12,500 members with 23,000 meters in the Oklahoma Panhandle, southwestern Kansas, the northern border of the Texas Panhandle and parts of Colorado and New Mexico.
About GridLiance: GridLiance is an independent electric transmission utility holding company. GridLiance collaborates with rural electric cooperatives, municipal utilities, joint action agencies and others to plan for the future of the grid, invest in necessary electric infrastructure and implement strategies to improve system reliability and resiliency and reduce overall costs to customers. Based in Dallas, GridLiance operates approximately 700 miles of transmission lines and related substation facilities in Illinois, Missouri, Nevada and Oklahoma. GridLiance is a portfolio company of Blackstone Energy Partners, an affiliate of Blackstone (NYSE: BX), a leading energy infrastructure investor. For more information about GridLiance, visit gridliance.com.