NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Why we don’t know (yet) what your future utility bills will be following winter storm

Power providers to seek billions from Oklahomans in wake of storm

Snow covers a gas meter in an Edmond backyard during the winter storm earlier this month. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]
Snow covers a gas meter in an Edmond backyard during the winter storm earlier this month. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]

It will take weeks or maybe even months for customers of Oklahoma’s power providers to find out how their bills over the next five to 10 years will be impacted by the providers’ February storm costs.

Here’s why:

• Total costs are still being calculated. Power providers don’t yet know exactly how much they spent to acquire the natural gas they needed to keep generating stations that use that fuel operating. They also don’t yet know how much additional power they purchased from the grid to keep energy flowing across the grid during the storm cost them.

• Each power provider is different. While Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co., Public Service Co. Of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Natural Gas, CenterPoint Energy and a few small cooperatives are regulated by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, it does not control operations of the Grand River Dam Authority, most members of the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives or municipal electric systems in communities that belong to the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority or to the Grand River organization. Their operations are governed by state law.

• Circumstances vary among power providers. Providers able to tap hydropower sources during the event, for example, were able to control costs better than other providers who couldn’t find power from that type of source available on the market.

• Customer counts matter. Each provider has differing numbers of customers that will repay those expenses. Depending upon costs, that could impact how long a consumer of any given entity will be hit with higher bills and how much higher those bills will be.

• Regulatory schemes matter. Each power provider is governed by a board of directors and each is operates under state law and, where applicable, under rules adopted by the Corporation Commission. In the case of rate increases filed before the commission, requesters and other interested parties will file testimony associated with administrative legal proceedings in those cases that will be reviewed by an administrative law judge and then elected corporation commissioners before decisions are made.

Jack Money

Jack Money has worked for The Oklahoman for more than 20 years. During that time, he has worked for the paper’s city, state, metro and business news desks, including serving for a while as an assistant city editor. Money has won state and regional... Read more ›