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Bill aims to bring competition to Oklahoma's electricity market

Nikola Johnny Mirkovic

A state lawmaker has filed a bill that aims to bring competition to Oklahoma’s electricity market.

House Bill 1602 by Rep. Ryan Martinez (R-Edmond) would give business owners and homeowners the option to choose their electricity provider, rather than having one assigned based on geography.

If the measure passes, commercial and industrial customers currently within the territories of Oklahoma Gas & Electric or Public Service Company of Oklahoma would be given the option to purchase electricity from other vendors beginning in January 2025, with residential consumers following in January 2027.

The bill would affect only current OG&E and PSO customers. Businesses and residents served by rural cooperatives would not be affected.

The proposal has drawn criticism from the utilities. A spokesperson for PSO said that the utility’s residential prices are at or below national, regional and state averages and have been for years.

"Deregulation would lower reliability, remove consumer protections and result in high costs for our consumers," PSO said. "We look forward to working with lawmakers to ensure our customers continue to have affordable, reliable power."

A spokesperson for OG&E said "any proposal to deregulate the electrical market in Oklahoma is a solution in search of a problem. Oklahoma’s regulated model has served Oklahoma electric customers well for more than 100 years," the company said. "In a deregulated model, there is no regulatory oversight to ensure costs are prudent or benefit customers."

The measure has been endorsed by the Alliance for Electrical Restructuring in Oklahoma, or AERO. According to Executive Director Mike Boyd, residential customers in Oklahoma saw a 59% increase in electricity prices in 2022, while commercial and industrial consumers experienced increases topping 100%.

“For a long time, Oklahoma had some of the most affordable electricity in the nation,” Boyd said in a news release. “That’s just not true anymore, and it’s unfair to deny Oklahoma families and businesses the chance to shop for better deals and lower prices.”

AERO said a more competitive system would deliver better outcomes than one controlled by “monopoly utilities.”

Passage of the measure would direct the Corporation Commission to establish a Customer Bill of Rights and create a licensing process for electric suppliers entering the market. It would also prevent "cost shifting" from one class of customer to another during the transition to a competitive market.

The bill does not impact the transmission of electricity, or the ways lines are serviced.

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Nyk has worked in radio since 2011 serving as a board operator, on-air announcer and production director for commercial radio stations in Iowa. Originally from the Quad Cities area, Nyk joined KGOU in 2018 as a practicum student studying Creative Media Production at OU. Upon graduating the following year, he became part of KGOU’s staff and is now the local Morning Edition host. When not on the air, Nyk likes to read, listen to music and follow news about the radio industry.
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