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

Kurtz, Karen kurtzkf at oge.com
Fri Sep 21 14:11:02 CDT 2012

Hi, Betty! I work for OG&E and checked around to see who the proper contact for your request would be. Please call Brian Routh at (405) 553-3949 or routhbk at oge.com<mailto:routhbk at oge.com>. He oversees our net metering and small wind. Hope that helps.

Karen Kurtz, APR
Corporate Communications
OGE Energy Corp.
Phone: (405) 553-3641
Email: kurtzkf at oge.com<mailto:halvorkm at oge.com>

From: ok-sus-bounces at lists.oksustainability.org [mailto:ok-sus-bounces at lists.oksustainability.org] On Behalf Of Betty Leggiero
Sent: Thursday, September 20, 2012 10:57 AM
To: David Nordahl; ok-sus at lists.oksustainability.org
Subject: Re: [Ok-sus] OGE's obstacles to home solar PV generation

As a widow that wants to be "green", but knows very little about active solar and even less about trying a DIY, I found OG&E's process very overwhelming. I hired a reputable company to install a four panel pinwheel for me. They did all the work and I trusted their advise on decisions. The only thing I had to do was call OG&E and have them come out and install a net-meter. I've been trying to do that for a few weeks now. I leave messages that aren't returned or get voice mailboxes that are full. It seems to me that if the process were simplier and OG&E were more receptive, more people like me would be willing to spend the money.
Betty Leggiero
Norman, Ok

From: David Nordahl <dnordahl at electricgreensolar.com<mailto:dnordahl at electricgreensolar.com>>
To: ok-sus at lists.oksustainability.org<mailto:ok-sus at lists.oksustainability.org>
Sent: Thu, September 20, 2012 10:38:19 AM
Subject: Re: [Ok-sus] OGE's obstacles to home solar PV generation

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

-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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