Bill may raise utility fees
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill Monday that would allow regulated electric utilities to establish a new customer class for users of rooftop solar panels or small wind turbines.
In signing Senate Bill 1456, Fallin also took the rare step of issuing an executive order directing its implementation.
SB 1456 would allow electric utilities to apply to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to establish a higher base customer charge for users of rooftop solar or small wind turbines. The higher fixed charge would be used to recover some of the infrastructure costs to safely send excess electricity back to the grid.
Fallin’s executive order emphasized the importance of renewable energy in her Oklahoma First Energy Plan, which was released in 2011.
“A proper and required examination of these and other rate reforms will ensure that Oklahoma appropriately implements the Oklahoma First Energy Plan while protecting future distributed generation customers,” Fallin wrote in the executive order.
SB 1456 drew opposition from solar advocates, environmentalists and some conservative groups opposed to what they saw as an unnecessary roadblock to solar development by regulated utilities. The bill goes into effect Nov. 1, and any new tariffs covering distributed generation users would have to be finalized before the end of 2015.