Citing the inability to hold public hearings due to COVID-19, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission delayed OG&E’s latest attempt to raise electric utility rates until later this year.
“We appreciate the Corporation Commission taking into account the importance of public participation in such an important hearing. Consideration of the public’s health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic is a priority and we are pleased with the precautions being taken by the Commission,” said Sean Voskuhl, AARP Oklahoma state director.
OG&E asked for a 7.29 percent residential rate increase to fund $810 million in unnecessary projects. “Just last year, OG&E agreed the current rates were sufficient. We are very disappointed that OG&E barely waited five months before asking, once again, to raise residential rates,” Voskuhl said.
OG&E wants the Commission to allow it to begin recovering an accelerated replacement plan of its distribution assets outside of a rate case with an extraordinary surcharge to ratepayers.
According to the 2020 data analysis provided by OG&E, residential ratepayers would shoulder a significant expense for the proposed $810 million project with virtually no benefit. In testimony, OG&E conceded residential customers receive only a questionable two percent of the benefit.
“While we support the need for reliable and affordable electricity, it is inconceivable to think that OG&E would ask seniors and other Oklahomans to bear the brunt of pet projects for which they would receive no benefit,” said Joe Ann Vermillion, AARP Oklahoma state president. “More than ever, our seniors and those on fixed incomes must be protected from overzealous rate increases.”
“Today’s ruling gives OG&E and its board of directors time to reflect. They have to somehow justify this unnecessary $810 million rate increase in the midst of COVID-19 to their customers. We are hopeful OG&E realizes this rate increase is not in their customers’ best interests and withdraw the case,” said Voskuhl.