OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahomans can expect a few extra dollars added to their utility bill as four companies start trying to recoup losses accrued during the historic February 2021 winter storm.
Thursday, Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners heard from advisors for utility companies about the added rate and why it has turned up higher than expected.
The rate has already started showing up on OG&E customer’s monthly statements. In the coming weeks, Oklahomans using ONG, Summit or PSO will see the extra costs as well. For OG&E customers, it was projected to an extra $2.12 a month but it turned out to be much higher at $3.34.
At Thursday’s meeting, Commissioner Bob Anthony said that price was not what was promised to customers or the commission.
“I’m looking for somebody committed legally to the best interests of the ratepayers,” said Anthony.
Anthony asked Michael Newman, financial advisor for Hilltop Securities, the company working to incorporate the rates to explain why added charges to monthly bills will be 60 percent higher.
“That leads to $330 million of extra interest cost to Oklahoma ratepayers,” he said.
Newman said the condition of the current market, like skyrocketing interest rates and unanticipated expenses, led to the significant change in the price of bonds which were purchases as part of the rate increase process.
Dana Murphy, chairman for the Corporation Commission, said the rates were part of the Consumer Protection Act and the commission must follow the law. The process of finding the right financing is a long and tedious one.
“No commissioner up here is an expert in the area that you’re the expert in,” said Murphy, referring to Newman.
OG&E’S vice president of Public and Regulatory Affairs, Ken Miller, issued this statement to KFOR following today’s meeting:
“Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Anthony said it best when he said from the dais that he’s not qualified to analyze the municipal bond market, yet that hasn’t stopped him from pushing a false narrative that erodes the public trust, even as bond market experts dispute his claims. In fact, the increased customer impact Commissioner Anthony is decrying is directly attributable to the delay caused by the lawsuits he encouraged his friends to file during a rising rate environment. As Hilltop Securities put into the record today, that delay added $120 million in increased costs to customers. Today the facts spoke for themselves. Legislators, commissioners, judges, and bond market experts all have weighed in. It is time to move on.”Ken Miller, Vice President of Public and Regulatory Affairs, OG&E
However, Anthony requested an independent review of the rates during the meeting.
ONG will be the next utility company to add the extra costs, which are projected to be much higher than OG&E.