OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Three former state legislators are calling on current lawmakers to investigate the Oklahoma Corporation Commission for what they’re saying is “deliberate misinformation” regarding the plans to charge Oklahoma ratepayers more money , in an effort to recoup billions of dollars in energy costs from the 2021 winter storm.
“They should have warned everybody, turn your thermostats down because the price of power is going to go up massively. Did they do that? No,” said former Oklahoma legislator Mike Reynolds.
“People that didn’t even have their power on during that outage will get to pay that [extra money] for 28 years,” he added.
First reported by OK Energy Today, the letter from former Oklahoma representatives Porter H. Davis, Mike Reynolds and Mike Ritze requested an “immediate investigation” into “deliberate disinformation” by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC), also saying say the public utility misled legislators into supporting securitization after Winter Storm Uri in 2021 which could cost Oklahoma upwards of two billion more dollars.
“It’s not because the fuel costs have gone up, it’s because of the mismanagement of these stock traded companies and how they have worked secret deals with the legislators, corporation commissioners, to pass this off to the rate payers – because they figure, hey, they can’t fight back [but] it’s put Oklahoma taxpayers on risk for billions of dollars of bond debt,” stated Reynolds in an interview Wednesday with KFOR.
The request follows other recent actions in the state’s effort to fuel cost recovery process, including a notice to state leaders that the OCC didn’t file a timely decision on the recent OG&E fuel adjustment clause request, and a dissent from Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony regarding the ongoing fuel recovery effort.
Previous KFOR reporting confirmed that it is against Oklahoma law for utility companies to profit from fuel cost adjustments under OCC regulations.
In the dissent from November 22nd, Anthony stated said “threat, coercion, administrative irregularities and withholding information” have impacted impacted his Constitutional duties to protect Oklahoma consumers.
“Threats, coercion, administrative “irregularities” and withholding information have hindered or obstructed my efforts to perform my constitutional duties as an Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner and to investigate billion-dollar charges to public utility customers, including credible evidence of public corruption and undisclosed conflicts of interest.”Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony in his November 22 dissent
Corporation Commissioner Todd Hiett released the following statement:
“Securitization of the record fuel costs from the February 2021 winter storm URI meant the lowest possible monthly payments for ratepayers. There was no other option offered that didn’t result in higher monthly costs.
Securitization was done only after all options were thoroughly explored in the effort to lessen the monthly impact on ratepayers. These costs were the result of natural gas sellers in an unregulated gas market drastically upping the price utilities had to pay for the fuel needed to keep lights on and furnaces lit for their customers during the storm.
The actual cost of securitization was higher than originally estimated in part because of a delay in getting the bonds to market due to frivolous and unsuccessful challenges by Mr. Reynolds in the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Even with the higher-than-expected cost, the monthly cost was still below any of the alternatives the Commission had to consider.
All Commission meetings on securitization, including the many hours of testimony and evidence presented in the cases, were held in public.”Corporation Commissioner Todd Hiett
“The Commission’s decision to allow utilities to use securitization to recover – at no profit – the fuel costs from Winter Storm URI was the result of a long legal public process, with all suggestions for alternatives welcome. There were none offered that provided as low a monthly payment for the customer as securitization.
Commissioner Bob Anthony neglected to attend most of the hearings and offered no viable alternative solutions to help the consumers he purports to protect. Criticism, accusations and misinformation are all he has offered. Oklahomans should certainly expect more from a commissioner serving in his 34th year.
I welcome any investigation into the Commission’s handling of securitization.”Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy
On Tuesday, the OCC approved a $19.6 million dollar rate hike request by Oklahoma Natural Gas.
It will cost most customers about two dollars a month in additional charges.