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Hearing begins over proposed rate hike for OG&E customers

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A hearing over whether OG&E should be allowed to increase their rates began Tuesday at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

As the hearing went on inside, some who are opposed to the increase gathered outside to voice their opinion.

OG&E said the increase is necessary, but others said it targets working-class Oklahomans.

The electric company is asking for what would amount to $95.5 million.

According to documents filed with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the company “is not earning sufficient operating income to produce a fair and reasonable return on capital or a fair and reasonable return on the value of its plant, property and other assets dedicated to public utility service within the state of Oklahoma.”

“We're asking to recover some of the cost of doing business to continue the reliability that OG&E has been providing for a hundred and some years now,” said Randy Swanson with OG&E.

As part of the hearing, community members were given a chance to address the commission with their concerns.

Many of those people also gathered at a rally outside of the Corporation Commission.

“It's time to stop protecting profits for major corporations like OG&E and start protecting the families of Oklahoma, people who are going to have to choose between buying groceries and paying their electric bill,” said Elise Robillard with the group Voices Organized in Civic Engagement.

“The rate increase, if it is enacted, will be a very detrimental thing for those who can least afford it,” said Mary Francis, a Norman resident concerned about the increase.

OG&E said, if approved, the increase would add an average of $7 a month to a customer’s bill.

The company said it's necessary to not only move forward but cover work they've had to do to keep the system running in recent years.

“Nobody likes to raise rates. I'm a customer. I'd prefer to not pay more rates, as well. But, to keep the lights on, we have to come to the commission and ask to be paid for the investment we've already made,” Swanson said.

No decision was made on Tuesday.

The Corporation Commission said they expect the hearing to take a few weeks.

They said a judge will then make a recommendation to the commission regarding what action to take next.

The commission will then decide, taking the judge’s ruling into consideration.

Those at the rally encourage any Oklahoman concerned about the increase to go to the hearing and voice their concern.

Public comments will be allowed.

Those wishing to comment will be required to sign in at the hearing.

Those comments can also be submitted in writing.

Those in favor of the increase will also be allowed to speak at the hearing.