Oklahoma nursing home energy bill reaches over $44k, drawing national attention

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahomans are being left picking up the tab from February’s huge winter storms with some local businesses getting gas bills 55 times larger than normal. 

What is being done to help now? How can we stop this from happening next time we have a long cold spell?

Lawmakers making moves today at the Capitol to help most bill payers spread out the $4.5 billion spent on energy in February as commodity prices spiked.

“At first I thought it had to be a misprint,” said Sharon Flower, Executive Director of Villagio Retirement Home.

The director of the NW OKC retirement home talking about a gargantuan energy bill from the February storms.

“Our normal gas bill runs about 7 to 9 hundred dollars a month. This month, I opened the gas bill and it was 44 thousand dollars. I was going to need CPR, it was just such a shock,” said Flowers.

So what is being done to help bill payers?

“They are going to pay what they owe, but what this is going to do is allow them to spread that out over a period of time so they don’t feel the effect all at once,” said Rep. Garry Mize.

On Tuesday, two Senate bills easily passing through the State House and are now slated for the Governor’s desk that would help most Oklahomans, that used companies like OG&E, ONG and PSO. But the Villagio retirement home bought their gas from a company in Texas. ONG just delivered it.

“It’s unfortunate when they elect to go thru a third party on that. It makes it very difficult for us to help them in those situations,” said Senator James Leewright.

The Republican from Bristow says the hearing will begin shortly to discuss how the state can prevent this from happening again. He says since a lot of the buying of energy crosses state lines, it will be up to Washington DC to make a move.

“In the stock market whenever there are tremendous runs or falls, they have stop gaps. We probably need to see something on the federal level on the commodity markets also,” said Leewright. “If there were concerns about pushback from oil and gas, I was elected to do what’s best for the state as a whole.”

US Senator James Lankford weighing in on the issue. His office sending News 4 this statement:

“After the power outages, burst pipes, and damage to homes from February’s extreme weather, Oklahoma and our energy partners should work to prevent rolling blackouts in sub-zero temperatures, to protect Oklahomans from big price spikes on their energy bills, and to maintain access to sufficient energy supplies going forward. We’ve held a hearing already in the Senate on the issue of power reliability, and our severe weather showed that, despite some who are pushing to have fewer energy sources available, it is important for us to have diverse energy options available. I have raised Oklahomans’ concerns in the US Senate, and I will continue to work on ways to improve regional power grid stability.”

Senator James Lankford (R-OK)

Today some House Democrats demanding action to recoup revenues gained by the commodity sellers and use them to pay Oklahoma utility bills saying in a statement.

“It’s outrageous that we are moving to pay this without also working to get any of this money back,” said Rep. Andy Fugate.

House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, issued the following statement:

Photo goes with story
Rep. Emily Virgin’s statement

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