Customer Choice in Oklahoma
OKLAHOMA In June 2001, Governor Keating signed SB 440. Its primary features are:
- To delay implementation of retail until restructuring can be studied further,
- To require passage of enabling legislation to restart restructuring,
- To establish a study group to examine the state's transmission infrastructure and restructuring and
- To create tax credits to subsidize electricity produced by new renewable resources.
The legislation, as an emergency bill, became effective immediately upon its June 4 enactment. SB 440 originated in the committee headed by Senator Easley, who was the main legislative force behind passage of the state's 1997 restructuring policy law.
Under the state's 1997 law, retail access was scheduled to begin July 1, 2002, pending passage of a more detailed restructuring implementation law. Higher energy prices in the region and broad public awareness of the California energy situation made passage of implementation legislation increasingly unlikely in 2001. A restructuring implementation bill had failed in the 2000 legislature.
Conditions for Starting Retail Competition
While the measure does not specify a date when retail competition may be implemented, it does set general milestones that must be passed before retail competition can begin. Retail access can not be implemented in Oklahoma until:
- The final report of the Advisory Committee is completed, which must be done by Dec. 31, 2002; and
- "Electric restructuring enabling legislation is adopted by the Legislature and signed by the Governor."
Reauthorizing restructuring probably would be required even though SB 440 does not revoke any restructuring-related provisions of the 1997 law except the July 1, 2002, start date.
Restructuring Advisory Committee
The law directs the Electric Restructuring Advisory Committee to:
- Study the current status of the state's electric transmission system as well as the study conducted by the Southwest Power Pool to identify potential points of congestion and suggested future transmission expansion including their financial impacts;
- Examine the electric issues report submitted to the legislature on Oct. 1, 1999;
- Analyze the operational characteristics and control systems of the current electric industry transmission infrastructure in the state;
- Solicit comments from consumers;
- Review any proposed federal legislation that may affect the state's electric industry;
- Examine how to encourage further development of "zero-emission electric generation facilities";
- Identify "management and control practices adopted by other states" for implementing restructuring and recommend those practices that may be of public benefit in Oklahoma; and
- Identify any other issues "relevant and necessary for the Advisory Committee to carry out its duties."
The nine member Advisory Committee will be in place until January 2005, unless terminated earlier by a majority of its members. The members of the study group are: 1) the chairs of each committee of relevant jurisdiction in the state Senate and House, 2) one member of the minority party from each chamber as appointed by each chamber's Minority Floor Leader, 3) the governor or his designee, 4) the state's Attorney General, 5) a member of the state Corporation Commission, 6) the Superintendent of Public Instruction and 7) the vice chair of the state Tax Commission.
The interim report on transmission issues must be completed by Dec. 31, 2001. The final restructuring report must be adopted by a majority of the committee and be delivered to the governor and the legislative leadership by Dec. 31, 2002.
Renewables Tax Credit
SB 440 establishes a new tax credit for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2002, to offset the tax liability for a taxpayer's production and sale of electricity generated by eligible zero-emission facilities in the state. Eligible generation is a new renewable resource with a production capacity of 50 megawatts or larger using wind, moving water, sun or geothermal energy, and which resource is placed in operation after the effective date of SB 440. The credit is applied as a subsidy over 10 years on a declining scale.