Oklahoma Senate Passes Solar Panel Surcharge

Ben Swann

Oklahoma City, OK, April 22, 2014- Some Oklahoma residents who install solar panels or wind turbines on their property in the future are likely to get hit with a surcharge on their utility bill. Senate Bill 1456 passed 83-5 on Monday, and awaits a signature from Governor Mary Fallon.

The bill, if signed, would authorize utility companies to charge higher base rates to “distributed generation” customers. Distributed generation customers are residents who generate enough electricity through their solar panels and turbines to sell excess energy back to the grid. The utility companies would apply for this authority through the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

Oklahoma utility companies support this measure, explaining that the new rate increase will keep prices “fair”. Utility companies justified the bill by explaining that they lose money when they buy excess electricity from these residents and redistribute it to other customers. By creating a new class of customers and charging them an increased rate, they argue that utility companies will reclaim the money they’ve lost.

According to The Oklahoman newspaper, Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. spokeswoman Kathleen O’Shea said, “We’re not anti-solar or anti-wind or trying to slow this down, we’re just trying to keep it fair.”

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