OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – This session, Oklahoma legislators are focusing on that historic February 2021 winter storm where average Oklahomans were left holding the bill for the billions in extra fuel cost paid to heat homes and businesses.
Now, there are steps being taken at the Oklahoma State Capitol to make sure it never happens again.
“It cannot happen again. The weather event where we are stuck paying 5 and a half billion dollars of storm costs for multiple years, that cannot happen again,” said Chad Mullen, spokesperson for AARP Oklahoma talking about the February 2021 winter storms.
Oklahoma electric and natural gas utilities paying as much as 1000x cost for fuel and passing those costs on to the consumer.
How do we fix the problem moving forward? Enter HB 3566.
It’s a piece of legislation that “requires public utilities to submit annual Emergency Update Plans and Maintenance Plans to the Corporation Commission.”
“I have obligations that I need to do for the people,” said Representative Mark McBride, R-Moore.
McBride introduced the bill and says after initial pushback from utilities, they have come to agreements as the language is worked on for exactly what will be required and penalties for non-compliance.
“I’m elected to represent the people of Oklahoma, not shareholders. That’s kinda my job, ya know?” said McBride.
We reached out to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and Oklahoma Natural Gas. They both told us they cannot comment on pending legislation.
OG&E responded with this statement.
“OG&E consistently updates federal and state regulators on its emergency response plan and its maintenance plan. Both are important tools for providing reliable, resilient power to its residential and commercial customers, and when required restoring power as quickly and safely as possible. The utility is aware of the legislation and is working directly with the author of the bill to provide information and industry expertise.”OGE Energy Corp.
“We need to make sure utility companies in Oklahoma are taking the necessary steps, taking what happened seriously and working to prevent that type of thing from happening again in the future,” said Chad Mullen.
This bill would just be an emergency plan.
Are there ways to make new laws to make sure 1000x costs are never again paid for fuel in these situations?
“There are some things, I think, we could do to change but I think it’s going to be a conversation over a period of time,” said McBride.
This bill is available for debate this week on the house floor.
Customers have not yet started paying off the extra costs as the finance plans are still in the courts.
The AARP saying today that government officials need to do more to look into who profited from the financial catastrophe and claw back some of that money for rate payers.