OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – With natural gas cost skyrocketing nationwide during the recent winter storm, many are wondering if they are going to get a huge utility bill in the mail. On Monday, State leaders talked about trying to tackle the potential problem.
Officials at the State Capitol say they have heard the reports of 20- even 40- times higher power and gas bills out of Texas.
But will that happen in Oklahoma?
Officials say no, in the short term.
“It was the coldest it had been since 1899. I know many Oklahomans are worried about what that will mean for utility bills,” said Governor Kevin Stitt.
Governor Stitt, along with leading legislators and state officials, were on hand Monday as leaders described gas units that normally sold for $2-3 dollars selling for $200-300 dollars during last week’s storm.
So how will that effect Okahoman’s utility bills?
“The vast majority of Oklahomans will not see a dramatic increase in their energy bills as a result of these rising gas costs,” said Secretary of Energy, Kenneth Wagner.
Wagner saying although some small towns with un-regulated power supplies could see bigger bills, the only immediate bill increases for customers of companies like OG&E, ONG, and PSO will be due to increased usage.
But officials are not ruling out bill increases later in the year as large power companies try to recoup the high prices paid for gas by spreading those costs out over time.
How high could bills be? Officials say they just don’t know.
“We will find a way to lower and minimize the burden on the people of the state of Oklahoma,” said Rep. Charles McCall, Speaker of the House.
“We want to make sure that Oklahomans don’t have to declare bankruptcy just to pay bills,” said Sen. Greg Treat.
Legislators say they are looking at ways to use state funds to possibly help Oklahomans with future higher bills.
The Governor saying he will continue talks with the Biden administration to see if federal funds could be available.
And those at the Corporation Commission say better planning and storage options need to be made in the system so that blackouts and gas shortages don’t happen again. They say utility companies have spent billions to cover for the short supply.
“We are going to turn over every rock until we find a solution,” said Stitt.
The Attorney General is urging all power companies statewide to send out paper bills this month to avoid auto-drafts that could wreck havoc on customers’ bank accounts.