Environmental compliance and renewable energy policies at Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. were on some shareholders’ minds Thursday at OGE Energy Corp.’s annual meeting in Oklahoma City.
OGE executives explained the utility’s recent support of a Oklahoma bill affecting rooftop solar and small wind turbine customers that drew opposition from environmentalists and some conservative groups. Senate Bill 1456, which allows regulated utilities to create a new pricing structure for distributed generation customers, takes effect in November.
In response to a shareholder question about the bill, OGE Chairman and CEO Pete Delaney said the utility wanted its distributed generation customers to pay their fair share for hooking up to the grid and having it available when the sun isn’t shining.
“There’s no tax, and we’re not trying to discourage (solar),” Delaney said. “We’re just trying to make sure the pricing is correct. The best thing for solar and distributed generation is to get the right price signals to continue to drive innovation and to continue to drive those prices down.”
Delaney said the amount of the base customer charge for future distributed generation users will be determined through a public process at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
Paul Renfrow, the company’s vice president of public affairs, told shareholders SB 1456 was complicated to explain because it dealt with how electric rates were calculated.
“Many thought the state of Oklahoma was adding a surcharge to the bill of customers using distributed generation, and that’s just not the case, that’s not what this bill was about,” Renfrow said. “The new law simply provides a way to calculate a bill differently than we’ve done it historically because the technology has changed.”
On another matter, Delaney said OG&E expects to hear by the end of the month if the U.S. Supreme Court will take up an appeal over power plant emissions affecting visibility at national parks and wilderness areas. OG&E, the Oklahoma attorney general’s office and a group of industrial customers are fighting a federal plan for addressing regional haze regulations.
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