Oklahoma House defeats deregulation implementation bill

The Oklahoma House of Representatives defeated legislation that would have implemented deregulation of the state's electric power industry in the closing minutes of the 47th Legislature. Industrial consumers and retirees fought the bill.


The Oklahoma House of Representatives defeated legislation that would have implemented deregulation of the state's electric power industry in the closing minutes of the 47th Legislature May 26.

SB220, authored by Sen. Kevin Easley (D-Broken Arrow), had previously passed the Senate 26-17, largely along party lines. In the House, the bill�s co-author, Rep. Jim Glover (D-Elgin) reportedly was considering letting the bill die unless he could get a commitment of support from a number of Republican representatives, apparently hoping that a threatened veto could be overridden.

The highlight of a very spirited floor debate was Rep.Leonard Sullivan�s (R-Oklahoma City) sharp criticism of the bill�s authors for their attempts to rush a complex piece of legislation through without time for analysis and debate. Rep. Sullivan also addressed the gallery, which was packed with utility lobbyists, lawyers and managers, accusing them of "...jamming this bill up our nose because it won�t stand on its own and it stinks."

Behind the scenes, last minutes changes were reportedly made to secure the support of the attorney general�s office. Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Denise Bode remained unswayed and actively opposed the bill to the end. The Oklahoma Industrial Energy Consumers and the AARP also campaigned against the legislation.

The bill would have served as implementing legislation for SB500 which was enacted in 1997 and sets a July 1, 2002, deadline for allowing customers to choose an electricity supplier. Transmission and local distribution will continue to be rate regulated.

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