OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The fight over efforts to add another charge onto many Oklahomans power bill has moved forward.
On Thursday, all three state corporation commissioners voted to set a public hearing on OG&E’s plan to tack on what the company called a “fuel cost adjustment” fee.
The public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 3 at the Jim Thorpe building, room 301.
Last week, the Public Utilities Division asked to hold off on the extra charges so it could take a closer look at why OG&E was asking for more than half a billion dollars from its customers.
OG&E said it asked for the fee to off-set the costs of surging fuel prices the company accumulated due to inflation. Customers would pay more than $20 extra per bill over a two-year span.
“The $504 million figure it’s set forth in this case, I think is a surprise to a lot of customers,” said Bob Anthony, Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner.
The large amount led to the Public Utilities Division to issue a motion last week to hold a public hearing in the matter.
OG&E’s senior attorney, Bill Humes asked commissioners to approve a “confidentiality agreement” to keep certain aspects of the company’s finances and business details private during next months’ hearing.
“The requested confidentiality of these items is not just to protect the company,” said Humes “It protects the customer. It protects the customer from market manipulation.”
Humes said keeping parts of the company’s business dealings under wraps, such as fuel forecasts, would be beneficial to everyone.
Commissioner Anthony, however, said customers should know what’s happening with their money.
“I think people probably have a reason to ask for more transparency than ever before,” said Anthony.
OG&E sent KFOR this statement regarding the decision to hold a public hearing:
Today, as part of a thorough and transparent process, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission held a hearing to discuss OG&E’s fuel factor. We know that any increase can be difficult for many of our customers who depend on OG&E to provide them with reliable electric service for their families, homes and businesses.
Each year, electric companies like OG&E, electric cooperatives, and municipal providers work with the Commission to review and adjust the factor used to determine the Fuel Cost Adjustment based on market realities. The Fuel Cost Adjustment is not a new fee. Every monthly bill includes the cost of fuel, and electric companies are not allowed to profit from fuel purchases. That means the price we pay for fuel is the price our customers pay.
We are committed to keeping bills as low as possible, however the cost of fuel for electric companies like OG&E, electric cooperatives and municipal providers has increased significantly over the last year across the nation, including Oklahoma. Because the cost of fuel has increased so significantly beginning this month OG&E is adjusting the fuel factor 7.4% for the average residential customer, or $9.73, per month. This reflects the increased cost of natural gas that fuels our power plants and is necessary to cover fuel costs incurred by OG&E through August 2022 which have not yet been collected from customers.
Knowing an increase to their monthly energy bill may be challenging for some customers and to , help reduce the financial burden, the under-collected fuel costs will be spread over a 24-month period, instead of the typical 12-month period. OG&E continues to provide a variety of programs to help customers manage their energy bills and energy usage.
We are committed to keeping bills as low as possible, while continuing to provide our customers with a secure electric grid and the safe, reliable, and resilient service they have grown to count on from OG&E.
Customers can visit OGE.com/fuel to learn more about the current Fuel Cost Adjustment, as well to learn about pricing options and programs that help customers manage their energy usage.