[Ok-sus] OGE's obstacles to home solar PV generation

Bob Waldrop bwaldrop1952 at att.net
Thu Sep 20 22:49:51 CDT 2012

This is interesting and very nice to hear that the author of the 
original letter may not have all his facts straight.  Or, he may have a 
different interpretation of a similar set of facts than David, but I 
know David and trust his opinion on such issues without question.

Bob Waldrop, Oklahoma City

On 9/20/2012 10:30 AM, David Nordahl wrote:

> As someone who has filled out several OG&E grid tie applications I'd
> have to disagree on almost all the points and say that OG&E's
> application is by far the simplest out there taking at most 10 minutes
> for someone that knows what they are doing.  Perhaps things have
> changed, but the form on their website looks the same as I've been used
> to.  Oklahomans are fortunate to actually have such a simple process
> with as little red tape as we have here.  The process in areas like
> California, Austin, and the northeast are normally extremely complicated
> and very drawn out, and the author would not have been able to DIY his
> own system and application in most of these developed markets and still
> qualify for the state/utility grants and incentives they have there.  As
> a result the installed cost per watt here is nearly half of what it
> averages in these other markets.  So to see someone complain about it
> and to see such little adoption of PV here despite how cheap and easy it
> is to install here for a DIY-er or retail customer seems very
> misdirected to me.
> On the first point, their application does not require any of the one
> line diagrams or engineering documents and drawings that most other's
> require.  It is more like a legal document, and the few technical fields
> can easily be obtained with a brief call to the inverter manufacturer
> and/or OG&E.
> On the second point, the smallest limit I've seen for residential grid
> tie systems is 25kw for the simple grid interconnect agreement formats.
> Scanning through their documents on their website, I see maximums much
> larger than this. Above these sizes, the system is considered more of a
> power plant and the implications of grid connections change so there are
> different processes involved. No residential system is going to be this
> large. If there has been a cap introduced on maximum total KWH output,
> then that specifically needs to be addressed.
> On the third point, most people are not going to size a system large
> enough to produce more power than they are going to use in an entire
> year.  Past this point, a system owner is assuming the role of a power
> plant rather than someone that is off setting their own power.  I'm not
> sure why one would assume entitlement to a retail rate pay back for
> power (though a few states have some provisions for this).  That's like
> assuming that a grocery store is obligated to buy goods from walk-in
> customers at the retail rate they sell them for.  There are a lot more
> regulatory mandates that would be more effective and reasonable than
> requiring retail buy back for excess production.
> The forth point is the only real point of contention I see worth
> mentioning, but I don't see any information on their website regarding
> it and the article should have focused specifically on this point if it
> is actually the case.  A couple years ago I was aware of an effort by
> OG&E to potentially co-brand or develop their own grid tie inverters and
> require customers to use this equipment if they wanted to connect any
> solar to the utility.  They had issued an RFP several years back which
> included the strange request that the contractor source several non-UL
> listed grid tie inverters for them.  Upon searching around nobody was
> really able to find any for them to the best of my knowledge.. and I
> partly suspected their motive was to provide a basis for at some point
> in the future requiring customers to use OG&E issued inverters. I've
> never heard of any California approved list.  Rather any inverter
> connecting to the grid must comply with the UL-1741 spec. OEC requires a
> copy from the inverter manufacturer of their actual certificate for it's
> grid tie applications.  If for whatever reason OG&E is no longer
> allowing UL-1741 conforming inverters to interconnect, than this is an
> issue that needs to be addressed.  I also have the impression it might
> be a possible future goal of OG&E to get involved to some degree in the
> installation and design process.
> My impression is that their long term goal is to figure out a way to
> make grid interconnection a mutually beneficial arrangement for both
> customer and utility, rather than purely an entitlement/regulatory based
> thing.  If they do get into the PV business in some measure or start
> producing their own options for inverters and equipment, then certainly
> consumer choice needs to still be maintained.
> TL;DR Targeting OG&E as the culprit for making PV inaccessible in
> Oklahoma is would be what I'd consider a very misdirected effort. But if
> OG&E has started disallowing customer supplied UL-1741 inverters to
> connect to the grid, than the issue should be taken up with regulatory
> agencies.
> -David Nordahl
> NABCEP Certified PV Installer
> NABCEP Certified Solar Thermal Installer
> On 09/20/2012 07:57 AM, Bob Waldrop wrote:
>> There is an interesting letter to the editor in the Norman Transcript
>> outlining what the author believes to be unnecessary obstacles in the
>> process for getting approved for OGE's buy-back program for electricity
>> residential users may generate with PV panels or wind.  From the
>> article, it appears that OGE is less than enthusiastic about encouraging
>> homeowners to invest in solar PV.
>> Read the letter at
>> http://normantranscript.com/opinion/x1709880462/OG-E-s-obstacles-to-home-solar-generating
>> .
>> There may be some process beginning with the Corporation Commission in
>> an attempt to change this.
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