A new state law affecting rooftop solar and small wind turbine users will be studied in September at a meeting organized by Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy.
Participants will discuss the implementation of Senate Bill 1456, which allows regulated utilities to apply to the commission to establish a new, higher rate structure for users of distributed generation, which includes electricity generated from rooftop solar and small wind turbines.
Murphy set the meeting for 1:30 p.m. Sept. 11 at the Corporation Commission in Oklahoma City.
Murphy supported the inclusion of distributed generation in a notice of inquiry on wind generation approved by the commission on Tuesday. But Commissioners Patrice Douglas and Bob Anthony wanted to keep the issues separate.
The commission scheduled the first of two technical conferences for the wind notice of inquiry for 10 a.m. Sept. 11.
“Given the (Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s) emphasized focus on efficiency and effectiveness, it is logical to include the discussions on distributed generation during the same time frame as wind development issues, as many of the same parties and similar issues are involved,” Murphy said in a news release.
SB 1456 doesn’t apply to emergency backup generators or customers who install solar panels or small wind turbines before Nov. 1, when the legislation takes effect.
The Corporation Commission has until the end of 2015 to approve new electric utility tariffs for users of distributed generation.
Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. and Public Service Co. of Oklahoma supported the law, saying distributed generation users still depend on the grid for power when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. The utilities said homeowners who can afford the large upfront investments needed for rooftop solar panels or small wind turbines were being subsidized for those connection charges by other customers.
Meanwhile, organizers opposed to the law continue to gather signatures to put SB 1456 to a statewide vote. They need 51,739 signatures of registered voters to get State Question 772 on the ballot.
Jonathan Pollnow, one of the organizers of the referendum petition, said he’s got about 30 people helping to distribute signature pages. The group received approval to gather signatures July 9.
“We’re continuing to organize and getting set up for when school’s back in session in Stillwater, Norman and other college campuses,” Pollnow said.
For more information on the referendum petition, go to www.nosuntax.org.