New Law to Add Fee for Alternative Energy Use

Alternative Energy customers in Oklahoma could be paying more money in the near future.

Signed into law earlier this week, Senate Bill 1456 is getting a lot of attention, particularly from those who have, or are considering, installing solar panels.

"I was very surprised to hear that that bill passed. I didn't even know it was in existence." Garret Roth owns Sun City Solar Energy, based out of his home in Bixby and installs solar power systems all over the country. He says, this bill shows Oklahoma lawmakers moving in a different direction than much of the country. "Other states are -- the utility companies are paying the people to put solar on their homes, instead of charging them," Roth said.

The law allows some utility companies to charge a fee to customers with "distributed generation." That means people producing their own energy with solar panels will still have to pay for their place on the grid.

"Whether you buy a lot or a little of the power source, the infrastructure to provide power to your home costs exactly the same. It doesn't matter if you're buying one kilowatt hour or thousands and thousands of kilowatt hours, that line that comes to your home costs the same for the company," said Senator A.J. Griffin, who authored the bill, speaking to KTUL Wednesday in a telephone interview. She said, it's about everyone getting their fair share and is, in no way, meant to discourage people from using alternative energy.

For Garret Roth, he plans to keep doing what he's doing, regardless of any new legislation. "I'm not much of a political person, you know, I'm just really out here to help the people put solar on their homes for the future of, you know -- all of our futures," Roth said.

Those who already have solar energy systems installed will be grandfathered in and not required to pay a fee. Roth tells us, since this bill was signed on Monday, calls to his business have increased by around 300%.

The new law is expected to take effect in November. The price of that so-called, 'tariff,' is yet to be determined.