OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has 20 days to respond to a subpoena from Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond. Drummond sent the subpoena Tuesday, asking for all communications by the commission and its employees pertaining to Winter Storm Uri.
The investigation will take a closer look at potential market manipulation of natural gas prices and trading during and after the 2021 storm.
Attorney General Drummond said in the subpoena it was “in the public interest that an investigation should be made to ascertain whether an unlawful restraint of trade and other unlawful activity took place.”
Commissioner Todd Hiett says he welcomes the investigation.
“I have long said that the Attorney General is the proper authority to investigate the actions of the unregulated markets that left the consumer, utilities, and state officials grappling with record high natural gas costs from Uri,” said Hiett. “I am gratified he is taking this matter very seriously, and the OCC will do all it can to help.”
Last week, Commissioner Bob Anthony published a report on the OCC website after he was asked by Drummond to prove on-going statements claiming wrongdoing.
Drummond then issued the subpoena days later to the commission’s director of administration, Brandy Wreath, and the commission’s attorney.
News 4 interviewed Wreath back in February after discovering emails that showed Wreath and a representative from Oklahoma Natural Gas drafting a mock bill. The mock bill was then sent to lawmakers, which ultimately led to legislation to recoup billions for the cost of utilities used during the storm.
“I wish I could call it price gouging because I think it’s gross. But that’s how the market works,” said Wreath, during an interview with KFOR in February.
On Wednesday, the Attorney General’s office issued a statement about the decision to investigate communications within the commission.
“Attorney General Drummond promised Oklahomans he would do everything in his authority to hold accountable bad actors who raked in billions of dollars in ill-gotten gains. These efforts remain ongoing and will continue until proper relief for ratepayers is secured.”Office of the Attorney General
News 4 reached out to ONG and OG&E and asked if either utility company had received subpoenas as well. Both said no.
“The utility companies of Oklahoma have a legal duty to provide natural gas, heating, and electric,” said Christi Woodworth, spokesperson for OG&E. “They simply bought at the market because they had a duty to buy at the market.”