Former Oklahoma regulator makes call for solar power development

A former Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner who is now involved in advocating solar power development contends Oklahoma could become the 6th most solar-powered state in the U.S.

It’s what former commissioner Jim Roth told an Oklahoma House interim study last fall.

“It is the most abundant form of energy in the state,” he said during the October hearing at the State Capitol. “We don’t have to be as great as sunny San Diego. We have tremendous opportunities for every corner of the state because the sun penetrates equally across the entire state.”

Roth is one of the founders of a new group called the Oklahoma Solar Association of which he is President.

It’s website proclaims “Oklahoma is ranked sixth in the nation in solar potential but situated 48th in our deployment of solar energy resources. The below picture highlights our state’s diverse terrain, but envision a neighborhood powered by rooftop solar, or panels on a farmer’s untillable farmland powering a nearby school.”

Roth and Lindsey Pever spoke to the interim studies hearing, a hearing that focused on how Oklahoma schools could benefit from “going solar.”

“Our access to market is why the numbers work here,” explained Roth during the hearing. “NextEra is looking at Oklahoma as a solar investment. The welcome mat is open for investment.”

He cited ongoing negotiations for a solar power site in southeast Oklahoma where discussions focus on thousands of dollars an acre.

“We’re starting to see that people are wanting to sell land outright to solar developers,” added Roth. “We’re also starting to see massive drops in the cost of solar energy. But it’s about location, location, location.”

Roth encouraged legislators to consider allowing more assistance for utilities.

“This is not a get out of last place by asking utilities to do it alone. But we need a state law to let them be successful in dealing with solar.”