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Oklahoma law directs state agencies, colleges to save energy

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill into law that directs all state agencies and higher education institutions to achieve at least a 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency and conservation by the year 2020.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Published: May 9, 2012

A bill signed into law Tuesday kicks off an energy conservation program for state agencies and educational institutions estimated to save the state as much as $500 million over the next 10 years.

Senate Bill 1096, called the Oklahoma State Facilities Energy Conservation Program, directs all state agencies and higher education institutions to achieve an energy efficiency and conservation improvement target of at least 20 percent by the year 2020. The measure takes effect in late August.

Fallin said the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a nonprofit group interested in advancing energy policies, has ranked Oklahoma as the fourth-worst state in the nation as it relates to energy conservation and energy efficiencies.

“That's not acceptable,” Fallin said. “We can do better ... and today marks that new day that we are going to do better.

“Not only have we been wasting our precious natural resources of energy, but we've also been wasting hundreds of millions of dollars in the process,” she said. “That's money that we could be using for ... essential government services, such as education, health and human services, public safety and transportation.”

Fallin said SB 1096 would transform the state into one of the best energy-efficient states.

“At home, we work real hard to look for savings and energy efficiencies,” said Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, the bill's author. “Small businesses — they're doing the same thing. Those savings are real. ... It's something we need to embrace on the state level.”

“Long term,” said Rep. Scott Martin, R-Norman, the House author of the bill, “this is the right thing to do not only for the environment, but for the financial savings that we're going to see for decades to come. It's just going to be fantastic.”

OSU is a model

The state effort is patterned partially after the success of an energy conservation program that began in 2007 at Oklahoma State University.

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