Consumer protections, an enhanced competitive environment and school funding safeguards highlight the final version of an electric deregulation bill approved by the State Senate Tuesday. SB 220 by Senator Kevin Easley passed on a 30-18 vote.
The measure would deregulate the electric industry in Oklahoma, encouraging competition among providers in an effort to reduce rates for state consumers.
"A lot of attention has focused on the electric industry, but Oklahoma consumers are the real winners in this process. They're going to get affordable rates and reliable services, in addition to the right to choose the provider that best fits their needs," said Senator Easley.
In addition to opening the electric market to competition, SB 220 contains numerous safeguards designed to protect consumers during the transition from a regulated environment to an open market. Among other things, the bill outlines a "Consumer Bill of Rights," detailing specific protections.
"We've included more consumer protection measures in this legislation than any other bill that has come before the Legislature during my tenure here. Consumers will have much more power in dealing with their electrical provider than they do under the current system," said Senator Easley.
Consumers aren't the only ones protected by SB 220, according to the lawmaker. With the input and support of state education leaders, language was added to the legislation that protects electric utility revenues that are currently earmarked for local public schools. The bill guarantees that schools will receive at least their current level of revenue and possibly more, depending on the growth of electricity sales.
"We're doing more than guaranteeing that schools won't lose revenue; we're creating a funding source that can actually deliver them more money in the future. Like consumers, schools will win under this legislation," said Senator Easley.
The legislator pointed out that SB 220 has been a long-term project. The legislation is the product of approximately five years of study, including numerous public hearings and fact-finding task force meetings.
"We put a lot of work into this bill and gave everyone an opportunity to make their voice heard during the process. I think the end result of all that hard work is a very good piece of legislation, one that will provide benefits to Oklahoma for generations to come," said Senator Easley.