OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – On Monday, legislators announced a plan to pay off the billions of dollars owed in utility fees from February’s storm, but some Oklahomans have big concerns with how quickly this is happening without a thorough investigation.
“Can we not slow this legislation down?” said Pam Bracken, Voice OKC member representing Mosaic United Methodist Church.
Voice OKC, a coalition of congregations, worker associations, schools and non-profit groups, giving a voice to Oklahomans slapped with massive utility bills.
“We are talking to people who are already hard pressed to pay their standard utility bill. Let alone one that might be 50% higher,” said Eric Jergensen, Voice OKC member representing Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House.
On Monday, legislators announced a plan to pay off the $4.5 billion owed.
Without help, officials say Oklahomans whose natural gas bill averages $100 a month could pay as close to $2000 a month for the next 8 months. But the financing plan– bringing that bill closer to $150 per month.
“My thought is this, we are probably gonna have to spread out some kind of payment. But I think we need to look very hard at the $4.5 billion,” Jergensen said.
“Investigate, investigate, investigate. Follow what happened and how it happened. How did prices get that high?” Bracken said.
The Alex Gerszewski, Communications Director for the Attorney General sent News 4 this statement in response–
“The investigation process underway is complex and time consuming. Our office is fully engaged with the intervening parties, with those that made transactions and continue to gather evidence and information. Our office will hold companies accountable if they violated Oklahoma law.”
But Voice OKC says there has to be a plan moving forward. Especially if Oklahoma is with another major weather event in the near future.
“We might layer debt upon debt if we don’t address some of these underlying issues,” Jergensen said.
“To rush this through, to not ask those really hard questions. The corporation commission needs a chance to really look at this. The federal government should probably be involved to look at this,” Bracken said.
The proposed plan would need to make it through legislature and then be signed by Governor Stitt to go into effect.