Environment, Education, Energy: Policy to People

Oklahoma’s Strict Rules Eclipse Renewable Energy Promise, Solar Users Say

Zane Selvans / Flickr

The costs of residential wind and solar energy installations are decreasing, and electricity customers around the country are excited about the possibility of pushing power back into the grid.

The promise of net metering includes tax incentives and credits that shrink electricity bills. But solar users aren’t getting credit for all the electricity they’re generating because of Oklahoma’s utility rules, which are stricter those in surrounding states, The Oklahoman’s Paul Monies reports:

… Oklahoma doesn’t allow customers to carry forward credits for excess power for more than one month. That’s more limited than OG&E customers receive in Arkansas, which allows credits for what’s called net metering up to one year.

“I watched those credits build up through winter,” Enid resident Kyle Clark tells the paper. “I know it sounds cheap, but it’s the principle of the thing.”

The Corporation Commission — Oklahoma’s utility regulator — allows credits to be accrued on a monthly basis. Anything beyond this minimum is left to electric companies and cooperatives, The Oklahoman reports.

But most of Oklahoma’s electric utility companies and co-ops don’t go beyond the Corporation Commission minimums, the paper reports:

OG&E spokesman Brian Alford said the utility prefers Oklahoma’s method for dealing with excess net metering credits. Arkansas law requires credits roll over for up to one year.

“We believe the methodology in Oklahoma is more appropriate,” Alford said. “It keeps the credits closer to the actual consumption.”

Alford said carrying credits longer than a month can create subsidy issues for other customers. He compared it to buying a beach ball in January when prices are low, then returning it to the store in summer when prices are higher and expecting a full-price refund.

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  • Rhonda

    That there are no comments on this article tells me there aren’t very many people in Oklahoma interested in solar or wind energy. I am, I would love to get some or all of my energy from the very abundant sunshine and wind in Oklahoma. I don’t believe Alford has the best interest of Oklahomans in mind when he says usage/credits would be like someone buying something on sale and exchanging it when the price goes up. We are charged different rates depending on the time of day we use electricity, why wouldn’t our carry over credits be redeemed at similar levels? For some reason anything provided by Oklahoma individuals never seems to get the same consideration that huge energy corporations often get, and corporations always get tax breaks regardless of the cost to our natural resources.

    • joewertz

      I’d love to know more, Rhonda. Feel free to email me at jwertz [at] stateimpact.org

    • Trish H

      Amen Rhonda! Now our Gov has passed a bill to surcharge the people of Oklahoma that put solor panels on their home! Oklahoma doesn’t want to go GREEN!

  • JohnG

    Greetings … I live in California where PG&E offers a True Up program where they take my solar energy vs what we used and send us a bill if we used more then we gave. IF our solar array produces more juice… PG&E has to (at some point, heard they are still trying to figure out a payback price for customers) pay us. … What is the policy in Oklahoma? If I bought a house and put solar on it… say I produce MORE energy … would the energy policy pay me via credits, cash or not at all? Thanks and very informative article! :)

    • Trish H

      John – Oklahonma will not pay for the homeowner for the credits. I have installed rooftop panels to my home, and have went round and round with OG&E and the Corporation Comm. Our neighbor in Arkansas who is on OG&E does get paid for their excess. OK also does not have any kind of a state rebate or incentative for installing solar panels like other states. It’s a little tough to go Green here – Thanks to the utilities, the corporation comm, and our Governor!!!!

  • Patrick

    Great info about the limits on (consumer) net metering. I am getting ready to add solar and wind to my urban house. This article let me know how much cooperation i’m going to get from AEP/PSO !?

  • Tony Ambrutis

    This is why I tell every homeowner that I install Solar on their property to choose the stand alone system which includes solar panels, battery back up, and an automatic transfer switch for grid power. This eliminates the Electric bill in its entirety with the exception of emergency grid power. If the utility requires solar backfeed, then the ATF can be set to supply the grid with that power on intervals. The stand-alone system, allows the homeowner greater freedom then what is already established for the establishment.

  • Brent

    I think it is great that OG&E allows net metering, but the fact that credits don’t roll forward past 30 days doesn’t make sense. If you put electricity into the grid, you should be able to retrieve its value at a later time, just as if you put money in the bank–it’s your money; you want to be able to get it out. The analogy put forth by Mr. Alford fails to demonstrate that with a couple of lines of computer code, net metering could be adjusted to current prices so that “It keeps the credits closer to the actual consumption.” Here’s my analogy: What if you put money in the bank and whatever you don’t spend by the end of the month the bank keeps? Does that make sense? It is a bad policy. As it stands, the only people subsidizing other customers are the ones that are putting energy into the grid but not getting the value in return–just the opposite of what Mr. Alford contends. Besides, to limit credits to 30 days creates a disincentive to install solar, which will produce greater costs in terms of increased CO2 emissions and more volatile energy consumption.

    • Gregory Smith

      The truth is even worse than you say. The utility notoriously can take the excess you send onto the grid and turn around an resell it for TIME OF USE premium prices and does not have to pay you the difference. This violates the Sherman Act that deals with products like electricity. The Clayton Act is also violated because the competition alternative from Texas could force Oklahoma to sell cheaper and if they prevent rooftop solar, they are denying competition by means of unfair regulation and treating solar customers as a seperate class which they proceeded to propose. This is a “per se violation” meaning it is so obvious, the court does not have to hear a case. It also results in a triple penalty if tried and found guilty. There are also criminal penalties so Oklahoma needs to get on top of this and repeal SB 1456 ASAP!

  • wrdsci

    I am with TXU and they credit your monthly bill for power you send back to the grid. You cannot produce more than you use and you are limited to a 12k system. My home is all electric and consumed 2200+ kwh per month. I have a 6.5k system at the moment and only have a bill for 1300kwh currently with all this rainy weather. It will never be zero and no worries of producing more than I use.

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