Former regulator campaigns for ROFR/NOFR bill to be passed into law

Jeff Cloud


The ROFR turned NOFR bill in the state legislature received the support this week of former Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Jeff Cloud.

In opinion piece in the weekend edition of The Oklahoman, a newspaper that has yet to carry a story about the controversial proposed bill that won approval in the State House but is heavily opposed by some consumer groups and wind energy power NextEra, Cloud maintained the measure would “protect customers through greater state oversight and accountability.”

It was originally proposed as a Right of First Refusal bill, a measure designed to give utilities the power to refuse competiton bidding on major transmission line projects. Opponents contend it will result in increased rates for consumers as utilities pass along construction costs to them. Proposed by Rep. Trey Caldwell of Lawton, the bill was approved in the House on a 65-29 vote. It was sent to the State Senate where on March 45, the bill received a first reading.

Cloud served eight years as a Corporation Commissioner and is now executive director of the Alliance for Secure Energy. In his opinion piece, he stated if HB4097 were to become law, it would return oversight to the Corporation Commission.

He further asserted the bill would be “closing regulatory loopholes created by an overreaching federal process that could allow foreign unregulated companies to benefit from owning transmission in Oklahoma without any responsibility to the state.”

Below is Cloud’s entire opinion piece:

Oklahoma’s economy relies heavily on the ability of regulators and policymakers to ensure secure, affordable, and reliable electric energy. Local electric companies play a vital role in supporting industries, businesses and households, driving progress and boosting productivity.

In my experience, Oklahoma regulators, policymakers and local electric companies are well-equipped to provide tailored solutions for their communities, thanks to their deep understanding of infrastructure and specific energy needs. This allows them to implement efficient and effective measures to meet their customers’ needs.

I wholeheartedly support House Bill 4097, the Oklahoma State Transmission and Accountability and Reliability Act (STAR Act), because it will bolster reliability in Oklahoma and protect customers through greater state oversight and accountability. The STAR Act will return the power of overseeing a competitive bidding process for new, high-voltage transmission projects to the state of Oklahoma. Enacting this legislation is crucial to establishing an optimal balance of free market principles and states’ rights by promoting customer savings through competition while preserving the integrity and reliability of critical electric infrastructure.

The STAR Act is the right solution for Oklahoma. It will require regulated utilities to conduct competitive bidding for new transmission projects. Under the STAR Act, local electric companies must justify their costs to own and operate critical transmission lines. By doing so, customers will only pay for reasonable and necessary expenses. Additionally, the legislation promotes reliability by requiring Oklahoma’s local electric companies to remain answerable to state regulatory bodies over the long life of critical transmission infrastructure, including during outage restoration events caused by extreme weather.

Moreover, the STAR Act avoids a patchwork of accountability regarding the grid by closing regulatory loopholes created by an overreaching federal process that could allow foreign unregulated companies to benefit from owning transmission in Oklahoma without any responsibility to the state. Instead, this intelligent legislation returns the oversight to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, ensuring that regulated utilities are fully accountable to the people of Oklahoma.

In conclusion, the STAR Act is critical to establishing reliability and accountability in Oklahoma’s electric system. This bill deserves our support because it puts Oklahomans in charge of our state’s energy future and ensures that Oklahoma has secure, affordable energy now and in the future.