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

Filed by KOSU News in State Impact.
April 13, 2013

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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