How Oklahomans Are Coping With An Increase In Utility Costs

For about 234 days a year, the Oklahoma sun shines, sizzles, and often scorches. For Bob Calvert and his wife, it powers their home and car.

Wednesday, August 23rd 2023, 9:03 pm



Oklahoma had been blessed with some of the lowest utility prices in the country. But over the past two years, yearly residential prices in Oklahoma have gone up about 20%. You've almost certainly noticed it on your bill—leaving many Oklahomans to look up to the sky for some relief.

Going Green and Saving Green

For about 234 days a year, the Oklahoma sun shines, sizzles, and often scorches. For Bob Calvert and his wife, it powers their home and car.

“We decided what we could do to minimize our footprint would be smart,” explained Bob.

Going green was his motivation. Saving green has been a big bonus. When asked how it felt when he looked at his electric bill, he answered, “It felt good. It felt good, and we had a credit for the next month.”

He's only paying OG&E's base charge for residential customers of $13 per month. Nothing for actual electricity. On very sunny days Bob sends power back to the grid, and OG&E gives him credit that he can use when it's cloudy or dark. PSO does the same for their customers.

Policies with different utilities throughout the state vary. So, check with them first before you do anything.

Weather-resistant and Durable

But beyond the sun, how does solar equipment hold up in other Oklahoma weather? 

“They’re incredibly strong,” says John Coffman with Commercial Solar who installed Bob’s system. “They’re designed for golf ball-sized hail.”

Coffman points to the October 2021 hailstorm.

“Not one of my clients had damage to their solar panels,” he said. But he adds, “If it hits on the corner it can crack. Kind of like if you are driving down the road and a rock hits our windshield.”

Manufacturers allege the panels will withstand all types of weather.

Eight Twenty owner Tony Capucille gave us a tour of his warehouse so we could see the panels and installation up close.

“This is rated to withstand 150-mile straight-line winds,” he told us, pointing to a mock roof installation.

Impact on Homeowner's Insurance Premiums

This leads us to our next question. What will solar do to my homeowner’s insurance premiums?

“There’s two or three that will say it's going to raise your rate,” says Coffman. “The vast majority, it does not have any effect on your homeowner’s policy.”        

Some will even lower your rate because the panel is protecting your roof. But it's best to check with your insurance agent before you decide.

Choosing a Reputable Solar Company

If solar still seems like a good option for you, how do you pick a legitimate company? OG&E says don't be fooled by anyone who comes to your door. The utility does not partner with any solar company.

“There are good companies out there, and typically they are not knocking on your door,” says Coffman.

And what about all those internet ads? Experts say there is a real opportunity for people to be scammed. “There is,” agrees Coffman. “And solar is not free.”

“First ask for referrals,” says Capucille. “Do they know the installation crew? Are they local? Start with folks who you actually know will be in your community after the finish the job versus a kind of gypsy type caravan that's moving through Oklahoma like a storm chaser.”

The Oklahoma Attorney General's consumer protection Unit adds:

- Shop around- compare reviews and prices.

- Never sign an agreement with a solar company under pressure.

- Check the warranty.  Both on the installation and the panels.

- And consider how long you will be in your home.

Which may lead you to ask: Will adding solar increase my home's value?  

“The more folks do it, the more folks understand, ‘If I’m going to buy a home, do I want to buy one with a $200 energy bill or a $14 energy bill?’,” says Capucille.

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