Oklahoma Corporation Commission hears changes to energy efficiency rules for electric utilities

Updated rules for energy efficiency programs offered by electric utilities will be finalized later this month after the Oklahoma Corporation Commission heard from participants in a hearing Tuesday.
by Paul Monies Published: February 4, 2014

Changes to the rules for electric utility energy efficiency programs will be back before the Oklahoma Corporation Commission later this month after a hearing Tuesday didn’t get to a vote.

Many of the rule changes had to do with how electric utilities would be rewarded for exceeding their energy efficiency goals and what kind of customers could opt out of the programs.

After a two-hour hearing during which additional changes were made, commissioners agreed Tuesday to wait to vote on the proposed rules until a final draft could be circulated. The matter will be back before commissioners Feb. 20.

The energy efficiency rules, called demand programs, are intended to minimize the long-term cost of utility service, delay the need for new generating plants and encourage consumers to reduce their energy consumption. Because demand programs result in fewer kilowatt hours sold, electric utilities are allowed to recover some costs for program administration.

The commission’s public utility division and the Oklahoma Sustainability Network suggested new goals for energy sales reductions of 0.34 percent and 0.42 percent for 2014 to 2016. Attorneys for Public Service Co. of Oklahoma and Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. said those goals would interfere with three-year energy efficiency programs already approved by the commission.

“To change us in the middle of the game is going to affect us in a way that we’re going to have to go backwards and rework what we’ve done in 2012,” said Stephanie Houle, an attorney for OG&E.

OG&E and PSO are in the middle of a joint study to see what kind of potential there might be for future energy efficiency programs.

Deborah Thompson, an attorney representing the Oklahoma Sustainability Network, said the goals are aspirational and utilities aren’t penalized for not meeting them. She said other states have higher goals.

“We support staff’s inclusion to try to inspire and have aspirational goals so we can catch up with other states,” Thompson said.

by Paul Monies
Energy Reporter
Paul Monies is an energy reporter for The Oklahoman. He has worked at newspapers in Texas and Missouri and most recently was a data journalist for USA Today in the Washington D.C. area. Monies also spent nine years as a business reporter and...
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Commission OKs wind contracts

The Corporation Commission, by a 3-0 vote, approved three contracts for wind generation for PSO. The approval will allow PSO to recover costs for almost 600 megawatts of electricity from three new wind farms to be built by 2016. PSO estimates the wind contracts will save about $53 million in the first year, with savings growing annually over the 20-year term of the contracts. “These contracts were based on extraordinary pricing opportunities that will provide substantial savings for our customers,” Stuart Solomon, PSO president and CEO, said in a statement after the approval. “Another benefit is the diversity that an additional 600 megawatts of Oklahoma wind energy will bring to our fuel mix.” The approved contracts will give PSO 1,137 megawatts of wind capacity by 2016. The wind farms will be built in Seiling, Balko and Goodwell.

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