OKLAHOMA CITY – The case for a proposed rate increase on customers of Oklahoma Gas & Electric has taken a step forward following a decision by an administrative law judge.
This past spring, OG&E proposed a rate increase of $92.5 million to cover expenses moving forward and to pay for work already done to the system.
“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,” Randy Swanson, a spokesperson with OG&E, told NewsChannel 4 in May.
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.”
OG&E said, if approved, the increase would add an average of $7 a month to a customer’s bill.
The proposal didn’t come without concerns from the public.
“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.
However, company officials said it was a necessary move.
“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.
On Thursday, the case for the proposed rate hike took a step forward following the decision by an administrative law judge.
According to NewsOk, Corporation Commission Administrative Law Judge Ben Jackson recommended the company be granted a rate increase of $60.3 million.
While that still seems like a big increase, it is 35 percent less than what OG&E had proposed.
In fact, OG&E already implemented an interim $69.5 million rate increase at the end of June since the case still hadn’t been decided.
If the judge’s recommendation is approved by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, that would mean that OG&E would have to refund about $9 million that was collected during the interim period to customers.