Groups protest utility's proposed new solar power tariffs

By Sean Murphy, Associated Press

OG&E is seeking permission to impose new tariffs, including an $18 monthly charge, for some residential customers.

Protestors hold signs outside the offices of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, protesting a plan by the state's largest utility to impose new charges on customers who generate their own electricity by using solar power. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

 

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Several environmental and pro-solar energy groups on Tuesday protested a proposal by the state's largest electric utility to impose new charges on customers who generate their own electricity by using solar power.

 

About three dozen people demonstrated outside the Jim Thorpe Building in Oklahoma City during a break in testimony before an Oklahoma Corporation Commission judge about the new "distributive tariffs" that Oklahoma Gas & Electric wants to impose on customers who install solar panels.

Currently, only about 217 of OG&E's roughly 740,000 customers have installed solar panels, and those customers, mostly residential, pay for electricity at night or on cloudy days when the panels don't produce enough power. OG&E is seeking permission to impose new tariffs, including an $18 monthly charge, for those residential customers.

"We're really talking about double billing anyone who puts solar panels on their house," said Bruce Prescott, an opponent of the new tariffs.

But OG&E spokesman Randy Swanson said the company's goal is to ensure that regular customers aren't subsidizing those who use solar power.

"What we're talking about here is making sure everybody that's connected to the grid pays for their share of the grid," Swanson said. "If you're on the grid, there's a cost to that — trucks, lines, substations, people, buildings."

The new tariffs were authorized under a bill approved by the Legislature in 2014 and signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin.

Once testimony in the case is concluded, OCC Judge Jacqueline Miller will make a recommendation to the three-member commission, which will make a final determination. A final decision could be weeks or even months away.

The Oklahoma attorney general's public utility unit has urged the commission to reject the new tariffs. In a position statement presented in the case, Assistant Attorney General Dara Derryberry maintains OG&E has not provided a cost-of-service study in support of the tariffs and has provided no evidence that customers who use solar power are being subsidized by regular customers.

___

Follow Sean Murphy at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy

Did You Like this Article? Get All the Energy Industry News Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to an email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

 Subscribe Now

Whitepapers

The Time is Right for Optimum Reliability: Capital-Intensive Industries and Asset Performance Management

Imagine a plant that is no longer at risk of a random shutdown. Imagine not worrying about losing...

Going Digital: The New Normal in Oil & Gas

In this whitepaper you will learn how Keystone Engineering, ONGC, and Saipem are using software t...

Maximizing Operational Excellence

In a recent survey conducted by PennEnergy Research, 70% of surveyed energy industry professional...

Leveraging the Power of Information in the Energy Industry

Information Governance is about more than compliance. It’s about using your information to drive ...

Latest PennEnergy Jobs

PennEnergy Oil & Gas Jobs