OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KFOR) — Another day, another OG&E rate hike. Well, at least that’s how many Oklahomans were feeling when they opened up their emails on Tuesday. The utility provider announced an increase of $5.46 effective this month.
“Effective January 1, 2023, you will see an increase to the fuel charge on your bill of 4.8%, or approximately $5.46 per month, for the average residential customer,” the email said. “This change is needed to collect fuel costs incurred through December 2022. To help reduce the financial burden, these fuel costs will be collected over a 21-month period.”
“I didn’t like that. You know, it’s like, ‘surprise,'” expressed Edmond resident Ethel Broiles after opening the unexpected email. “I don’t think that’s right.”
She’s one of many OG&E customers who feel like the rate hikes just keep tacking on and they don’t fully understand why.
“Nothing we can do about it but pay it,” said Michelle Aragon of Southwest Oklahoma City. “No matter how much we scream and holler, it’s not going to change. At first it wasn’t a big deal, but then when I it keeps going on and on and on, it gets to the point where when’s it going to stop?”
Moore resident Alaina Tyler wishes she could have another electric provider but said she knows she can’t.
“It’s a monopoly,” she said. “I don’t have any option. I can’t go and shop my competitors or try to come up with a different company to go with. I have to just obey what is assessed to us.”
KFOR asked OG&E for a timeline of all the recent hikes and explanations for each one.
They reported the average customer increase in 2022 was $23.25 per month.
“We know that rising inflation has increased the cost of many household items, including food and fuel, and is creating a financial pinch for many of our customers,” their statement to us read. “No one – including OG&E – wants to see higher electric bills and we know our customers depend on us for reliable electricity to power their homes and businesses. We are committed to delivering reliable and resilient electric service at the lowest rates possible.”
For 2022, the hikes started with an $8.11 increase in March for a fuel cost adjustment.
They explained that fuel cost adjustments are “the driving force behind increases, representing approximately 90% of total increases over the last year. It is important to note that OG&E cannot and does not profit from fuel purchases. Costs can also decrease if the gas prices decrease and last occurred in 2020. OG&E’s team has increased natural gas storage and shifted our purchasing practices to help protect customers from volatility in the natural gas market.”
In August 2022, there was a $3.34 increase for fuel and purchased power costs associated with February 2021 Winter Storm Uri.
“During the February event, OG&E customers did not experience uncontrolled or rolling blackouts like those in Texas due to OG&E’s natural power plants providing energy to the grid,” they explained to KFOR. “There were some customers who experienced service interruptions to protect the grid and avoid grid failure like Texans experienced. ”
“Between February 2021 and May 2022, the state legislature passed, and the Governor signed securitization legislation, the OCC issued a securitization order approving the collection of $760 million in fuel and purchased power costs, and the Supreme Court found securitization met the standard of law, ruling in factor of the OCC’s order,” their statement continued. “During the period between the OCC order and Supreme Court approval, interest rates rose significantly due to market forces. The price of securitization rose from the originally estimated $2.12/month to an estimated $3.34/month.”
In September 2022, they implemented a $2.07 increase to harden, secure and modernize the electric grid, an investment to improve system reliability, resiliency and security.
Then finally in October 2022, another fuel cost adjustment, this time resulting an increase of $9.73 for the average residential customer
So, when you factor in the new $5.46 add-on that took effect this month, that equals $28.71 in increases since March 2022.
AARP Oklahoma said they are frustrated by the constant upticks.
“I’m very concerned because we know of individuals who are then beginning to make hard choices,” said President Jim Randall. “It’s a choice of whether we have medical care this month, what do we buy at the grocery store, or do we pay our electric bill?”
OG&E asks that residential customers who face challenges paying their bill to please contact them at 1-800-272-9741. OG&E also offers several programs and services that help customers manage their energy usage and monthly bills that can be found at oge.com.