Oklahoma’s Gov. Mary Fallin (R) on Monday signed into law a measure that would allow regulated electric utilities to recover revenues needed to pay for transmission infrastructure as the number of distributed generation users increases. 

Senate Bill 1456, which drew strong opposition from environmental and distributed generation groups, reversed a 1977 law that prohibited public utilities from imposing extra fees on their customers who install solar equipment. The new law allows power suppliers to propose a base rate increase for customers who install solar panels and or small wind turbines after Nov. 1 (existing customers are exempt), and it directs the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) to establish the new tariff.

The impact of the law will likely be limited by the executive order Fallin signed concurrently with the bill, which calls on the OCC to “to determine the appropriate way to account for the infrastructure cost of distributed generation.” The bill should “constrain the OCC’s consideration and approval” of tariff applications with respect to distributed generation customers, but it “does not mandate tariffs or other increases for distributed generation customers,” the order says.

Fallin also called on all state entities to support “all forms of energy” as outlined and mandated by the Oklahoma First Energy Plan. “This plan promotes wind and solar power as important forms of clean energy, which have a significant place in Oklahoma power generation. An essential element of this plan is distributed generation,” she wrote in the executive order.

Only around 350 Oklahoma individuals rely on distributed generation to date, but “this number will grow significantly in the future,” said Fallin.

Sonal Patel, associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)