NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – The City of Norman and OG&E are trying to figure out a collaborative path forward after a franchise agreement failed in an election last month.
This week, the two parties announced to residents they’re working “diligently” to avoid significant consequences, such as the city losing $3 million in revenue.
“On January 10, 2023, just over 2,000 voters within the City of Norman, representing 2% of the city’s population, voted no to a new franchise agreement with OG&E,” a joint statement from the two parties said. “This failure results in significant impacts and consequences for the City of Norman and its citizens, both in terms of power services and financial support. As a result, the City of Norman and OG&E have been working diligently together for the past three weeks to determine a path forward.”
The agreement that failed in January was a 25-year deal in which OG&E would have collected an annual 3 percent franchise fee to give to The City of Norman, as well as an allotment of free electricity to the city for operation of traffic signal lights and municipal buildings in an amount of up to one-half of one percent of the kilowatt hours sold to Norman customers within the preceding fiscal year.
The statement continued on to say that as they work together to develop a constructive path forward, they’ve agreed on two primary goals, “Ensuring the city does not lose $3 million in revenue from the franchise fee and free service, which would significantly impact the City’s ability to provide service to citizens, and allowing OG&E to retain rights of way to restore electric service during storms or outages, and to improve the grid.”
They also noted that the no vote did not change Norman’s service provider and that OG&E’s service area is determined by the state and is independent of the franchise agreement.
“For the next 12 months, OG&E will retain access to easements and rights of way, and the City will continue to receive franchise fees and its allotment of free electricity, as we work toward a long-term resolution,” the joint statement further noted.
While many Norman residents don’t want to lose financial support or have power services reduced, they say they’ll be voting no to the franchise agreement with OG&E until they have a bigger voice at the negotiating table.
“It’s the right decision,” said Aaron Stiles, a Norman resident, of January’s no vote. “I think the taxpayers noticed that The City of Norman was negotiating for their own benefit, not for the benefit of ratepayers and taxpayers. And residents of Norman saw through that. They saw The City of Norman’s getting free electricity and $3 million. What are we going to get? Our rates go up and we don’t see any changes in the infrastructure. We need somebody that’s going to negotiate on our behalf.”
He would like residents to be included in future negotiations.
The City of Norman and OG&E said they’ll be launching a series of town hall meetings for Norman residents to better understand their concerns.