- Senate Bill 1456, due for a lower house vote by the end of this week, would significantly change the value of Oklahoma's net metering program by allowing utilities to add an infrastructure cost surcharge to distributed generation owners’ bills.
- Sponsored by Republican Representative Mike Turner, the bill is being aggressively fought both by the Sierra Club and by Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed (TUSK), a pro-solar Republican group co-chaired by Barry Goldwater, Jr., the son of conservative champion Barry Goldwater.
- Opponents say the surcharge would compromise the value proposition and likely the growth of distributed generation like rooftop solar and small wind. If the bill becomes law, it will require regulators at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to begin a procedure to set the level of the surcharge.
- “Oklahoma is an oil, gas and coal state,” Goldwater, Jr., wrote in an open letter to lawmakers. “Allowing private enterprise and the rooftop solar industry to thrive will give energy customers in Oklahoma a choice as to how they get their electricity. If you slap heavy taxes on it, you are allowing the heavy hand of government to stop competition in favor of long-held monopolies.”
This bill comes directly out of the playbook of the Koch brothers-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which has been driving conservative state-level legislative efforts across the country.
The response comes directly out of the playbook of The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC), whose funding comes primarily from the major national rooftop solar installers like Sunrun, SolarCity, and Sungevity which make up its membership.
TASC-backed solar advocates have blocked or limited a number of similar ALEC-backed efforts in states from Arizona and Colorado to Georgia and Louisiana. But in almost every case the fight has initiated a formal procedure requiring regulators to determine the actual value of solar (VOS) to utilities and ratepayers. The battles over net metering will likely only end if agreement can be reached on that value.