Oklahoma City News, Entertainment & Occasional Humor • Established 2007

Oklahoma is winning the war against… solar energy?

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Did you know since the 1970s it’s been illegal for Oklahoma utility companies to charge extra fees to customers who use solar or wind energy at their home or business? Yes, it’s true. Under Oklahoma law, you can literally install solar panels on your property, use the energy they create to power most of your home, and then sell the excess clean energy you don’t use back to the utility company during peak hours. And guess what, the utilities can’t charge you an additional dime for it. What a racket, huh? Those utility companies that have a bunch of Os and Gs in their names sure are screwed.

Well, until now.

Fortunately for all of us, one brave Oklahoma lawmaker noticed that totally outlandish, unfair law and decided to do something about it. Mike Turner, the trust fund baby who eats his own eye boogers and wants to ban marriage, recently sponsored SB 1456, which gives utilities the right to impose fees – or what Judge Roberts may consider a tax – on selfish, game-rigging assholes who generate their own clean solar energy. You know, because that’s a concern we all stay up late thinking about.

Turner’s legislation sailed through the House and Senate and was signed into law yesterday by Mary Fallin. Now, thanks to our Republican-controlled legislature and Governor, Oklahoma utility companies will finally be playing on a level playing field with the asshole who wants to put some panels on his roof.

From NewsOK.com:

Bill may raise utility fees

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill Monday that would allow regulated electric utilities to establish a new customer class for users of rooftop solar panels or small wind turbines.

In signing Senate Bill 1456, Fallin also took the rare step of issuing an executive order directing its implementation.

SB 1456 would allow electric utilities to apply to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to establish a higher base customer charge for users of rooftop solar or small wind turbines. The higher fixed charge would be used to recover some of the infrastructure costs to safely send excess electricity back to the grid.

Of course, this extremely logical legislation that benefits the people (and natural gas companies) and discourages use of clean, pollution free, solar power has drawn the ire of the liberal, solar panel loving elitist national media. Blogs, message boards and even MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow have chimed in to criticize what I’m now calling the The Oklahoma Utility Equality Act:

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said on Monday that Oklahoma’s new law essentially fining homeowners who install solar energy panels, while disappointing, represented an advance of sorts for champions of renewable energy.

“Maybe this means that alternative energy — like solar energy — is now viable enough to be an actual threat to the bottom line of the oil and gas and coal industries. We say it’s the four stages, right? First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. Well, solar has apparently moved on from being ignored or laughed at, and now they’re fighting it.”…

According to the Daily Oklahoman,Maddow’s theory is not far-fetched: a report published last year by the Edison Electric Institute voiced concern over the prospect of solar or wind power becoming a feasible option for more consumers.

“When customers have the opportunity to reduce their use of a product or find another provider of such service, utility earnings growth is threatened,” the report said. “As this threat to growth becomes more evident, investors will become less attracted to investments in the utility sector.”

Subsequently, both the Edison Institute and the Koch Brothers-funded activist group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) have run television ad campaigns threatening utilities customers with drastic rate increases. An AFP ad that ran in Kansas also linked renewable energy to opposition to the Affordable Care Act by mentioning that she supported a 2009 law requiring utility companies to get 20 percent of their power from alternative sources.

“Our state directors have been weighing in on energy legislation through office visits in their state houses,” AFP told Maddow’s show in a statement. “AFP activists are very engaged on energy issues; they’re overwhelmingly opposed to government policies that restrict their access to affordable energy.”

While the efforts of groups like AFP and the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council failed in Kansas, however, Maddow wondered if they found an especially-good target market in Oklahoma.

“Did they win for the first time tonight because because it’s Oklahoma?” Maddow asked aloud. “Because Oklahoma is so far off the freaking ideological chart in terms of its state governance that they don’t just refuse to raise the minimum wage, they ban raising the minimum wage? Where they see gay people getting married and the reaction is to ban marriage for everyone because the gay people have ruined it? Did warming yourself with the sun instead of coal just become a punishable offense in Oklahoma because it’s Oklahoma?”

Whatever. Who died and made you so smart, Ms. Maddow? Who do you expect me to trust? Liberal out of state elitists with no stake in the game, or Oklahoma Republican lawmakers who are out to protect publicly traded utility corporations that donate to their campaigns and essentially get to operate under a state-endorsed monopoly? I think the choice is pretty clear. Republicans all the way. You know, because they’re pro-life and want to protect the 2nd amendment.

Anyway, I guess this concludes this episode of “Oklahoma is a fucked up place to live so I might as well pretend to be part of the majority.” Seriously, give me the bluepill. I’m not sure how much more of these crazy laws I can handle. It makes me want to fly out to Colorado and get stoned.

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Comments

  1. This is ridiculous. Their excuse was incredibly weak. The safety mechanisms are installed at the generation source, paid for by the homeowner, and required by law. WTF are they going to do with the money? Count it.

    • Next month, the they will pass a bill if your house faces south, you could put panels on it so you should pay the Koch Brothers and your utility.

  2. It makes total sense if you understand how electric rates work. A certain amount of what is needed to run the business is built into the rates. If you get the benefits from the electric grid, but don’t have to pay, that isn’t really fair.

    That said, I can’t imagine that there are enough people in this category to really need to address it.

    • The social media defense is out in full force. This is their common argument.
      It’s complete BS of course, b/c there is no maintenance cost, the infrastructure is already in place.
      This law was enacted to simply make sure that since solar power and wind power is getting cheaper to install, that the bottom line of the energy companies is not hurt.

      • No maintenance costs uh? I suppose once you build something, it just sits outside in perfect condition forever. Never needs trees cleared from the lines or upgrades. No damage from ice storms etc.

        • Try to get money from the Kochs after their fracking operations destroy whole towns. Who has to pay for that?

    • If that were true, why wouldn’t the electric companies just structure the contract, such that they’re guaranteed a certain number of kwh consumed? They’re not interested in covering their costs – their interested in increasing their profits.

    • Well, gee. It’s also not “fair” that those of us without kids still have to pay our fair share of school taxes, either, but the solar panels aren’t hurting anybody. The only ones who benefit here are the utility companies. Wahhhhh.

    • Governor Fallin is getting money for signing this bill. She is full of greed. The Rolling Stones have a song for her that they wrote about baby Bush, “You Call Yourself A Christian, I Call You A Hypocrite.

    • Ryan: A quick check will indicate that no utilities, particularly OG&E are in any financial danger – in fact, they are doing rather well and stealing money form those who do not choose to use there services is a tidy and conservative approved way to add to the bottom line. I can only wonder how long it will be before a similar bill imposing a special tax on people who chose to read out side under a tree will be upon us.

  3. Just plain awful and backwards. I’m sorry to say this logic is why I moved to Texas 16 years ago. My power company, Denton Municipal, will pay for half the cost up to for a homowner to install solar tied to the grid. http://dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=TX80F&re=0&ee=0. I’m sure some folks will call BS on this but there are people in Dallas with $10 a month electric bills on 4,000 sq ft houses. I love so much about Oklahoma and Okies but this stinks.

  4. Before I get bent out of shape about this I’d like to see what the new rate structure is; it is going to be determined by the Corporation Commission so I hope that it hearings for that the charges are fully justified, and the rate is fair (yeah, not holding my breath). What they should do is adjust the rates for everyone – charge a fixed fee for what it costs to provide service to the meter every month, in terms of transmission lines, etc, and then charge the going rate for the electric power that is delivered. If my understanding is correct this is the model used for natural gas in this state — ONG breaks out charges for the service and for gas used.

  5. As a moderate Dem I can see this one from both sides of the transformer.

    I assume that OGE/PSO/ETC. has to modify the infrastructure between my house and their substation to accommodate “receiving” my electricity and measuring said electricity to credit me properly (if I’m wrong educate me). While we could expect them to do that on their own I could see that being costly. But, I’d like to think that they would be able to foot that expense as a state regulated corporation.

    What if I didn’t care about selling electricity back to them and didn’t care if the electricity went upstream? I’d think I’d still be able to maintain my status as a regular consumer.

    I could get on board with me having to share in the infrastructure expenses if I’m selling my electricity back to the grid. If they had to drop $10,000 every time some hippie put up a solar panel it could get expensive. You’d think it would come out of future earnings/credits with an interest-free system of some sort.

    Ramblings from the east.

    • No, utilities do not have to make modifications to “receive” electricity. Electric meters are already capable of measuring consumption and generation because most places allow net metering. Most utilities require a transfer switch to stop power from energizing lines during an outage (to protect linemen) and possibly a power conditioner to match frequency and voltage.

      Those items are paid for by the consumer when the system is installed. They’re required for wind, solar, and even natural gas powered standby generators.

      This is entirely about corporate interests using their political influence to protect their markets — you know, free market capitalism.

  6. ” It is the job of the State to help ensure the safety and well-being of the health of its citizenry, as well as to protect the consumer ”
    and they do it well here in Oklahoma … Txs Mary

  7. Turner’s a luddite and Oklahoma’s rate payers will suffer at his [and Fallin’s] hands. At least Douglas [Turner’s (R) opponent] “understands” energy.

  8. The costs of the grid are already paid for by the consumer. It is a specious argument. The power company sells you power at retail and buys it from you wholesale. The power company would likewise be forced to pay to accommodate incoming power to the grid if they had to purchase it on the open market; the reason for the law is that by forcing the utilities to purchase surplus power generated by the consumer, they are able to forestall having to construct additional power generating capacity.

    Simply put, OG&E won, and solar power lost.

  9. Google “ALEC Koch Brothers solar” and you’ll pretty much have your answer. That assortment of imbeciles at the state capitol, including this newest retard, are simply too dumb even to come up with their own ways to kowtow to their corporate overlords and have to be instructed by out-of-staters with higher IQs how to get their PAC money.

  10. I view these solar/wind energy folks as being small businesses. Therefore, this republican law is anti-small business.

  11. If you generate your own electricity (solar/wind), you’re paying for the net difference between what you purchase and what you generated. The electricity you generate, if purchased, is bought at wholesale prices – so the electrical company is already covering their costs – since they’re buying from the generator at wholesale ($.05/kwh) and selling to a consumer at retail ($.104). Additionally, the installation of the grid is paid for by the customers. If you go out to rural Oklahoma and decide that you’re going to build a widget factory and power doesn’t exist, you’re going to have to take bids from Co-ops and electric companies to have the infrastructure built up to the capacity that you’ll need. You’ll probably get a price break, should you guarantee a certain amount of service, but you’re definitely going to pay for it. To pretend that solar/wind users didn’t already pay for the infrastructure to be built is foolish. This is nothing but another political maneuver to increase profits. And I’m a registered Republican…in case it matters.

  12. Oh, the temerity of homeowners interested in a little self-sufficiency. What I wonder is how the politicos square what is essentially a tax on those homeowners with the overriding philosophy of low taxes. After all, if one is forced to pay more in tax, or higher rates on their energy, they’ll have less to spend elsewhere, other businesses will receive less revenue, someone may get laid off….

    • Good point, it seems to me that the OK legislature is really adept at strangling the tax base.

  13. ROFLMAO Txs Mary! If the states job is to protect the health and safety of its citizenry they are doing a lousy fucking job; wake up!

    Ignorance must be bliss.

  14. No, that half-wit twat Mike Turner did not just suddenly, of his his own volition, decide to take an interest in the urgent issue of infrastructure costs associated with solar power. As stated above, this is a pet issue of the Koch Brothers and the oil, gas and electric generation industry. Mike Turner simply happened to be the one who was approached by industry lobbyists and asked to sponsor an industry-created bill that almost assuredly was written before he ever laid his eyeboogers on it. This is exactly how both corporate interests and far-right cuckoo “think tanks” are getting favorable legislation passed on the state level all across the country. Take a look at any state-level bill that, on the face of it, screams out for a “what the fuck is that all about, and for fuck’s sake, why?” and chances are it was or is an industry-written bill that, in most cases was introduced – without even the pretense of originality – by a bought-and-paid for elected flack. The oligarchy is winning pretty handily at the federal level, but it’s absolutely kickin’ ass and takin’ names at the state level, which unfortunately is where the most damage is often inflicted upon us non-oligarch serfs, peasants, drones and proles. This bill is but one example of why we are doomed to always lose in a game that is impossibly rigged to cheat us so long as we steadfastly continue to vote into office those who work in direct violation of the best interests of the citizenry in favor of the best interests of the rich and powerful entities that really run this country.

    And if you happen to wonder how that populist fight-the-good-fight is going for us, all you have to do is look at our current US senate race. Think any of those candidates give a shit about us? About forward-thinking policies like small-scale solar? Nope and nope. Same thing at the state level. When a body of elected officials can overwhelmingly and with absolute impunity pass a bill that is nakedly designed to penalize their alleged constituents for the benefit of their real constituents, then something’s fundamentally wrong with our democracy. Unfortunately, the only way to rectify that is through increasing the intelligence and awareness of voters and teaching them to cut through the billions of dollars worth of bullshit obfuscating propaganda thrown at them 24 hours a day, propaganda designed to do one thing: make ignorant, uninformed citizens vote, time and time again, against their own self-interests. That’s how idiots like Mike Turner get elected, and that’s how bills like this get passed.

  15. Gettin hardern harder to be proud of bein a Okie— ‘Sooner born n Sooner bred, n when I die Ill be Sooner dead.’ Glad you all down there at the ‘Ogle’ are still fightin the good fight. (Say, does that mean youre ‘Oglehomans’?)

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