Oklahoma Corporation Commission wants to keep winter rolling blackouts from happening again


OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – There’s a growing urgency to protect Oklahomans from sky-high utility prices when Mother Nature decides to bring a winter blast.

You may remember last February’s winter arctic storm when many people were experiencing frozen water pipes. Thousands of Oklahomans were left dealing with rolling blackouts. A few months later, utilities were paying sky-high prices on the spot market for natural gas, ultimately passing on those costs to us.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission held a meeting Tuesday morning where three utilities presented their new and improved winter-action plans

“I think it’s important for the number one, for the customer to know that the utilities are taking steps to try to prevent and avoid what happened last year,” said Commissioner Dana Murphy.

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The Corporation Commission doesn’t want a repeat.

“It’s not enough just to let the public know that we need you to conserve, and we need you to do something,” said Murphy. “But also, if there’s going to be some indicator about pricing changes, at least to try to give some initial alert to that.”

For the sixth time this year, utility providers explained their new strategy. Those plans include training to mobilize employees when bad weather hits quickly, installing more windbreaks, weather-protecting wind turbines, retrofitting old plants to operate in freezing weather.

Another key, having available natural gas at a reasonable cost.

“I think I heard things I hadn’t really heard before about the storage of fuel on-site,” said Murphy.

Murphy told KFOR Oklahoma is known for its tornado preparedness, but federal agencies are now making it mandatory for the state to be winter-prepared.

Murphy stated the corporation commission is focused on making sure the power grid doesn’t freeze up, choking off natural gas supplies. She told News 4 while they can’t control gas prices, utilities can turn to hedge and gas storage to help control costs.

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