Conservative, Environmental and Green-Energy Groups Fighting Solar Surcharge Bill

  • Joe Wertz

An “unlikely” coalition of environmentalists, solar advocates and conservative groups are opposing a bill that would allow electric utilities to levy a surcharge on customers who install rooftop solar panels or small wind turbines.

“They aren’t exactly teaming up, ” but they’re all attacking Senate Bill 1456, authored by Sen. A.J. Griffin, R-Guthrie, The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies reports:

The bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Mike Turner, R-Edmond, has drawn the ire of an Arizona solar group called TUSK, which has fought utilities in that state and others over what they say are unnecessary barriers against rooftop solar. TUSK released a YouTube video on Tuesday deriding Turner’s support of the bill, which is backed by the major electric utilities in Oklahoma. (Turner’s office did not return a call for comment Tuesday afternoon.) The group also is distributing a letter to Oklahoma lawmakers from Barry Goldwater Jr., a former congressman and son of conservative icon Barry Goldwater. The younger Goldwater is co-chairman of TUSK.

The Oklahoma chapter of the Sierra Club is also a vocal opponent, Monies reports:

For their part, Oklahoma electric utilities have said residential users of distributed generation are being subsidized to an extent for extra grid infrastructure by other customers who can’t afford the large upfront costs of rooftop solar installation. SB 1456 would set up a process at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates utilities in the state, to decide how much of a surcharge is warranted for future users of distributed generation.