OU Memorial Stadium – “Ooooooohh U!”
Oklahoma, the Sooner state. With the Ozark mountains, Cypress swamps and Grand Lake, not to forget the plains and prairies, Oklahoma needs the sun to keep itself looking good. Solar power and other clean energies could keep the state’s cities and towns bustling while protecting the land and waters that bring life to the Sooners. The state legislature has not done much to promote renewable energy sources, but here’s a guide to what they’ve been thinking about.
Okalhoma’s Renewables Portfolio Standard
A Renewables Portfolio Standard (“RPS”) is a law or other piece of regulation that mandates that a certain percentage of at state’s energy production comes from renewable resources by specified target dates. A strong RPS is important because it forces utility companies to promote conversion to renewable energy. That generally means free money for you in the form of solar power rebates and performance payments when you switch to solar.
Okalhoma has set a goal of 15% renewable energy by 2015. While that would ordinarily be an adequate first step for an RPS, Okalhoma’s RPS is literally establishes a goal and not a mandate. There are no penalties or other sanctions for utility companies that do not meet the 15% target.
Unfortunately the patterns we’ve seen elsewhere is repeated in Oklahoma: A voluntary RPS simply is not enough to spark meaningful incentives for solar power. For instance …
Solar Performance Payments and Rebates in Oklahoma
Okalhoma lacks any utility solar power rebates or performance payments. If the RPS set mandatory levels of renewable energy production, we can guarantee the utility companies would offer incentives to help you make the switch to solar. How do we know? It’s worked everywhere that a real RPS has been implemented!
Oklahoma Solar Tax Credits
The legislature isn’t picking up the slack either; there are no tax credits for installing a solar power system here.
Oklahoma Solar Tax Exemptions
Tax exemptions are a simple, straightforward, and effective way to promote solar power. A sales tax exemption would save you between 4.5% and 8.5% on your initial investment, depending on where in the state you live. A property tax exemption would save you even more, exempting you from paying taxes on the more than $12,000 in property value that installing a solar power system will add to your home. All without ever actually removing a dime from the state’s bank account! That sounds like a win-win to us. Unfortunately state lawmakers have yet to see that light (no pun intended); we currently lack both tax exemptions here.
Utility Prices in Oklahoma
Oklahoma pays an average of 9.62 cents per kilowatt-hour (“kwh”) of electricity. That’s one of the lowest average rates in the nation, and well below the national average of 11.43 cents/kwh. We know you like paying less now, but the long term costs of cheap electricity are through the roof. All that cheap electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels. Tons and tons of earth-killing fossil fuels. When the astronomical environmental costs start to mount, monthly electricity bills are inevitably going to rise as well. When that happens you’re going to feel pretty darn smart for making the early switch to producing your own clean, efficient solar power. Just remember to thank us …
Oklahoma Net Metering and Interconnection
Net Metering requires your utility to monitor how much energy your solar power system produces and how much energy you actually consume, and make sure you get credit for any surplus. Oklahoma requires investor-owned utilities and electric cooperatives to offer net metering to all customers. All systems up to 100kw are eligible; utilities are not allowed to impose extra charges for customers, nor are they allowed to require new liability insurance as a condition for interconnection. While all of of that is pretty solid, overall Oklahoma’s net metering can’t get more than an “F” grade, because the utility companies are not actually required to purchase your excess electricity generation. Customers can request that their utility purchase excess generation, but the decision ultimately rests with the company, not the customer. You will need to check your individual utility company for their policy on net metering purchases.
Oklahoma has yet to pass any statewide standards for interconnection.
5kW Example Return on Investment in Oklahoma
Installing a typical 5kW solar system should start at about $25,000. Don’t worry – even without state incentives, you’re still going to save a lot, just in the first year.
- Since the feds calculate the federal solar tax credit based on actual out of pocket costs, no state solar power rebates or other incentives mean a bigger federal tax credit. Subtract $7,500 (30% of $25,000) for a new price of $17,500.
- After the federal solar tax credit we subtract your first year’s energy savings, which we estimate to be about $675. That brings your cost after the first year to $16,825.
- With a conservative estimate for the future rise of electricity prices, you can expect your new solar power system to pay for itself in about 17 years. Even with that somewhat slower payback time frame, you can still expect to get about 8 years of profits out of your solar power system. We estimate those profits to be almost 15 grand through 2036.
- In addition to those direct wallet-fattening savings, you also increased your home value by $13,506!
- In addition to all that cash (and home value), you’ve created some green for the earth as well by not using all that fossil-fuel backed electricity. In fact, the fossil-fuel energy you’re not using is the carbon-saving equivalent of planting 124 trees a year, every year your solar power system is humming.
These numbers are estimates. Your home is unique and how much power you generate and how much money you save depends on that uniqueness. The best way to find out how much cash switching to solar can save you is to get one of our free quotes, and an expert installer in your area can draw up a home-specific estimate for you. Your quote is 100% free (yes, that’s right, 100% free) and you can get as many of them as that smart shopper in you desires!
Oklahoma Solar Consensus
Oklahoma has made remarkable progress in the development of wind power, although that may be more the result of efforts by its two largest power providers than state legislators. OGE Energy, parent company of Oklahoma Gas & Electric, recently announced plans to more than quadruple wind power production from 170 mW to 770 mW, and is also constructing a high-capacity transmission line in the western part of the state. (Interestingly, green pricing customers are now buying wind power at about the same rate as electricity from traditional sources.) Public Service Company of Oklahoma, a unit of energy giant American Electric Power, is currently an even larger producer of wind power in the state and equally committed to growing that market.
However, Oklahoma will have to do some serious work promoting solar power and other clean energy sources to be considered an environmentally responsible state in the 21st century. The state legislature has considered very few renewable energy bills, and has passed even fewer – just one in the last 2 years, and it was an amendment to an existing rule. It’s more than OK to jump on the solar power bandwagon sooner, not later! If Oklahoma really wants to make a change in its energy market, the legislature needs some renewal; vote in some lawmakers who care about the Sooner State.