OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Corporation Commission meeting was heated Thursday after two commissioners exchanged fiery comments concerning four cases. The cases were with utility companies that will recoup costs of more than $2 billion they suffered during the 2021 winter storms. Oklahoma Natural Gas, OG&E, PSO and Summit will now past those costs onto customers for several decades.
Commission chairman Dana Murphy, who will be leaving her elected position in only a few weeks, wanted to close the cases. Commissioner Bob Anthony argued the $2-plus billion dollars was a lot of money and if the cases were closed, commissioners could not continue to investigate the high amount of added costs. Anthony said commissioners were “legally obligated” to investigate.
“This is only a $2,3 billion obligation that the rate payers of Oklahoma are going to get to pay for,” said Anthony. “I think it’s worth a little bit of review before you slam the door and close the case.”
He claimed Murphy was concocting a cover up.
“This is not an attempt to cover up anything,” said Murphy. “There is no further action being taken in these cases. I’m the one that posted the orders, Commissioner, and there’s no cover up on my part.”
Commissioners voted at the end of the meeting with both Murphy and Commissioner Todd Hiett voting to close all four cases. Anthony did not vote and said he would be issuing a “dissenting opinion.”
All four companies had representatives at the meeting. They were asked if the companies would take any more actions on the cases. All four said no, meaning they would not be asking for any more cost adjustments.
We reached out to all four utility companies and three sent News 4 a statement.
“Today’s hearing at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission represents a final administrative step related to an initial regulatory request for handling Winter Storm Uri costs. Those proceedings are now moot as the subject matter related to those proceedings no longer exists. The closing of those proceedings has no impact on customer costs because the expenses referenced in today’s hearing were later securitized.
OG&E remains committed to providing the life-sustaining and life-enhancing electricity our customers need. We will continue working to keep customers bills as low as possible while also offering them options to manage their bills. We appreciate Oklahoma lawmakers’ efforts to minimize the immediate and sustained financial impact for customers related to the 2021 winter storm and the Oklahoma Corporation Commission for upholding their decision.”
“Oklahoma Natural Gas appreciates the efforts from all those involved the past several months as we worked to find ways to manage through the extraordinary costs from Winter Storm URI.”
“The February 2021 winter storm was an unprecedented challenge for the state, our communities, PSO and most importantly, our customers. During the storm, PSO prioritized the health and safety of our customers by keeping the power flowing to homes and businesses during multiple days of below-freezing temperatures.
Today’s actions were largely administrative in nature, closing out an outstanding docket item that has already been resolved through the securitization process. Securitization was reviewed thoroughly by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission under a process approved by the Oklahoma Legislature. The Oklahoma Supreme Court also reviewed the securitization order, as required by state law. The process has worked to provide the best road forward from a difficult situation.
Securitization addresses the severe financial impact of the unprecedented storm by extending the timeframe for PSO to recover costs incurred to serve customers during the event. It is a balanced approach that allows the costs to be repaid over a 20-year period and ensures customers pay only the costs incurred. PSO will not earn a profit on these costs.”