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Oklahoma House committee passes new utility charge for residential solar

Residential and small businesses who install rooftop solar panels or small wind turbines would be assessed a new surcharge for the infrastructure costs needed to feed excess electricity back into the grid. Senate Bill 1456 now goes to the full House for consideration.
by Paul Monies Modified: April 1, 2014 at 11:00 am •  Published: March 31, 2014
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Users of rooftop solar panels in Oklahoma who want to send excess electricity back into the grid will have to pay an extra charge under a bill passed Monday by a House committee.

Senate Bill 1456 passed the House’s utility and environmental regulation committee by a vote of 7-0. Its House sponsor, Rep. Mike Turner, R-Edmond, said the bill would establish a new rate tariff so utilities could recover some of the infrastructure costs needed to serve customers who install distributed generation.

“I question if it’s appropriate for other ratepayers to bear the expense of necessary infrastructure improvements to accommodate individuals that ride the fence,” Turner said after the committee.

Bud Ground, with Public Service Co. of Oklahoma, said the state’s current rates and tariffs unfairly reward customers who can afford to make the upfront expenditures needed to install solar panels, small wind turbines or other types of distributed generation. A new class of customers for distributed generation would prevent that kind of cross-subsidization, he said.

The legislation wouldn’t apply to electricity customers who already have solar panels or small wind turbines installed on their property. It also wouldn’t affect large industrial consumers who have their own systems of distributed generation.

Turner said SB 1456 sets up a process at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission for advocates of distributed generation to work with utilities.

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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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