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Rep. Martinez Introduces Bill to Inject Choice and Competition into Electricity Market

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 14, 2023


OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma State Rep. Ryan Martinez (R-Edmond) today filed legislation that would help reduce Oklahoma’s skyrocketing electrical bills by injecting choice and competition into the electricity market. HB 1602 would give commercial and industrial customers currently in OG&E or PSO territories the option of purchasing electricity from other vendors beginning in January 2025. Residential consumers would have that option in January 2027.

The bill only impacts current OG&E and PSO customers. Businesses and residents served by rural cooperatives are unaffected.

The Alliance for Electrical Restructuring in Oklahoma (AERO) praised Martinez for seeking solutions for skyrocketing electricity prices. In 2022, residential customers experienced a 59 percent price increase for electricity while commercial and industrial consumers both saw price increases of over 100 percent.

“For a long time, Oklahoma had some of the most affordable electricity in the nation,” said AERO Executive Director Mike Boyd. “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. Kudos to Rep. Martinez for recognizing that a free-market system is going to deliver better outcomes then one controlled by monopoly utilities.”

Martinez’ bill does not impact the transmission of electricity, or the ways lines are serviced. OGE and PSO will continue to service power lines and be compensated by customers for their work. Customers would then be able to choose whether to also pay OG&E and PSO for their electricity usage, or to seek a third-party vendor.

“Our current system gives OG&E and PSO a status as ‘monopoly middlemen’ acting as vendors selling electricity from the Southwest Power Pool,” said Boyd. “There is no public benefit from gifting them that monopoly status. It does not reduce costs or provide more reliable power. What our monopoly system has done, for many years, is make a small group of investors wealthy at the expense of Oklahoma families and businesses. It’s time for a change. The era of monopolies should end.”

Martinez’ bill keeps all existing consumer protections for the sale of electricity in place. In addition, it directs the Corporation Commission to establish a Customer Bill of Rights, to create a licensing process for electric suppliers entering the market, and to prevent cost shifting from one class of customer to another during the transition to a competitive market.

“This isn’t deregulation, and it isn’t the Wild West,” said Boyd. “This is a transition to a restructured, competitive but orderly market where consumers are no longer held hostage to the whims and profit motives of large monopolies.”

Read the full text of HB 1602 here.

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