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Oklahoma Corporation Commission turns away Lake Region Electric Cooperative's challenge

Cooperative loses territory battle

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission issued an order this week that dismissed a case Lake Region Electric Cooperative brought involving the Retail Electric Service Certified Territories Act.

The cooperative claimed that Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co., operating under the act's 1-megawatt exception provision, violated the act in providing the Cherokee Nation with energy to power a casino, associated maintenance building and health center with electrical service. The 1-megawatt exception allows one electric service company to extend its service into another's territory if the customer who needs a capacity of 1 megawatt or more of energy can find and chooses a more affordable option.

The commission’s order noted that testimony shows the Hulbert-based cooperative was aware that the Cherokee Nation would be building the health care center and casino before construction began and was invited to offer a verbal bid to the tribe to provide the casino with energy.

The nation rejected the cooperative’s bid, determining its costs were too high.

It also knew in April or May of 2017 that OG&E would be serving the tribe’s health center and a casino maintenance building once they were completed.

The commissioners’ order noted the cooperative, in fact, had provided contractors with power to build the health center before OG&E built a substation to serve it.

“Prior to filing this cause (in August of 2019), Lake Region did not complain to Cherokee Nation or Cherokee Nation Enterprises that their contracts with OG&E to serve the Health Center or the Casino would violate any Oklahoma statute or rule of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission,” the order stated. “A complainant must have been diligent in seeking his remedy, and must not have slept upon his rights, and if he has been guilty of an unreasonable and unnecessary delay in availing himself of his remedy, a court of equity will deny him relief,” it stated, referring to case law.

Staff reports