OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Two Oklahoma Supreme Court Justices had harsh criticism for state Attorney General John O’Connor Wednesday. This comes as they signed off on OG&E’s plan to sell up to $800 million in state bonds to cover the cost of the February 2021 arctic blast.
OG&E got the legislature’s help creating a plan to recoup those costs by charging customers more than $2 per month over the next 28 years. These bonds, though, are being used to pay that cost up front.
“I can’t think of the last time the Supreme Court had such harsh language for an attorney general,” said Republican and former Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma Todd Lamb.
Lamb is reacting to scathing words from the state’s highest court on Wednesday. Justices claimed O’Connor “abdicated” and “shirked” his duties throughout the process of finding a way to cover the cost of the storm.
“I was surprised, and I think I share the sentiment of a lot of…just a lot of citizens of Oklahoma, particularly those that follow the Oklahoma Supreme Court,” Lamb said.
O’Connor originally threatened to sue several oil and gas companies, this past February, that sold natural gas at inflated prices. Later, he backtracked on those threats and issued a notice of non-intervention regarding the bond plan in March. He said that he was in support of that bond plan.
The justices wrote that O’Connor never took a position on what OG&E costs were “fair, just, reasonable or prudently incurred.” They said he also “failed to litigate other legitimate points…” raised by concerned Oklahomans. Had he done so, they said he could have “likely saved those consumers even more money.”
The Attorney General’s office fired back in a statement that can be read in full below:
“The Attorney General’s office specifically supported efforts to reduce OG&E’s requests, and OGE’s request was reduced by $10million in the settlement agreement approved by the Corporation Commission. The bond structure was the best way to meet the needs of customers while helping OG&E recoup costs from the unprecedented storm. These bonds will save ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars in interest that utilities would have charged with traditional financing. Attorney General O’Connor is grateful that the legislature recognized the need to act quickly to establish sound fiscal policy and take advantage of low bond rates to maximize savings to Oklahoma consumers – which was specifically not within the purview of the Supreme Court. As you know, interest rates are rising and any delay in the process was costly. Our office always vigorously represents the ratepayers and we have done so in this instance, despite the opinion of two justices who were not privy to the full process.”OFFICE OF THE OKLAHOMA ATTORNEY GENERAL
“It’s going to be very interesting to see what occurs politically with this,” Lamb said.