In order to provide equal access and equal opportunity to people with diverse abilities, this site has been designed with accessibility in mind. Click here to view

back to press releases

Consumer Protections, School Funding Safeguards Highlight Final Electric Deregulation Bill

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.

For example:

  • Electric rates will be fixed at current levels until 2005;

  • Oklahomans will be able to choose their own electrical provider, based upon their personal or professional needs;

  • A consumer education program will be established to ensure that Oklahomans understand their rights and opportunities in a restructured electric marketplace;

  • Before choosing a provider, Oklahomans will be given detailed contract information, including available services, methods of cancellation and contact information such as a toll-free 800 number;

  • Oklahomans will be provided with clear and easily understandable billing information by their chosen electrical provider;

  • Oklahomans cannot be disconnected by an electrical provider during periods of inclement weather, such as extreme heat or cold;

  • Oklahomans will have a one-stop complaint process through a newly created consumer information and complaint division;

  • All electrical providers shall be licensed by the state to ensure that they can provide a dependable and safe service;

  • A $10,000 fine will be imposed for "cramming" -the unauthorized billing of services without the written consent of a consumer;

"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.

Contact info
Senate Communications Division - (405) 521-5605