Sun tax error

Roger sent me this, and I imagine he was shaking his head as he read it:

Oklahoma residents who produce their own energy through solar panels or small wind turbines on their property will now be charged an additional fee, the result of a new bill passed by the state legislature and expected to be signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin (R).

On Monday, S.B. 1456 passed the state House 83-5 after no debate. The measure creates a new class of customers: those who install distributed power generation systems like solar panels or small wind turbines on their property and sell the excess energy back to the grid. While those with systems already installed won’t be affected, the new class of customers will now be charged a monthly fee — a shift that happened quickly and caught many in the state off guard.

You can read the measure in its current form here. This is how I replied to Roger:

I admit to not knowing what Ann Griffin was up to when she wrote that bill. (Most Republicans in the OK Senate have at least decent ratings from the Sierra Club; Griffin rates a 93% on their scale.)

The bill provides for a surcharge limited to “that required to recover the full costs necessary to serve customers who install distributed generation on the customer side of the meter after the effective date of this act,” which date is the first of November. However, it also expects the utilities to determine the amount of those costs, and implement the appropriate tariffs by the end of 2015. Typically, a tariff has to be approved by the Corporation Commission, and they will generally open a period of public comment before issuing a decision. So this may not be the done-est of deals.

And I’m thinking that, once actually imposed, this fee will probably be on the same scale as what I pay to support the state’s first wind farm. Ten years ago, it was a buck and a quarter a month; revised tariffs make it a bit more variable, but my most recent electric bill, for $56.95, included a “net wind cost” of $3.39. I’m betting they ask for about twice that, and the Corp Comm will approve half of it, and everybody will pretend to be happy.



  1. Roger Green »

    19 April 2014 · 4:24 am

    How the heck did you see me shaking my head?
    [reads again]
    Sorry, you IMAGINED correctly…

  2. fillyjonk »

    19 April 2014 · 10:13 am

    Coming up next:

    A surcharge on home gardeners, because they’re “cheating” the crappy wal-mart produce section out of income.

    (I know, I know: don’t give them any ideas)

  3. Tatyana »

    20 April 2014 · 7:43 am

    “costs necessary to serve customers who install distributed generation on the customer side of the meter”
    I wonder what that consist of, exactly? Say, I bought and installed a generator on a roof of my building. I paid for local electrical lines and a panel for the building. I am still connected to and use the usual utilities grid when my generator is idle; consequently I pay my usual taxes for power usage. So far nobody’s poorer because of me. Then come utility company and offer to buy excess of my self-generated electricity. How does it work? Did they supply necessary equipment free of charge and now decided that after all, I have to pay for it? Then they changed our contract retroactively. Or they have accrued additional expenses somehow that are not listed in our contract?
    In both of these scenarios I don’t see how State should get involved. That’s not their business, pure and simple.

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