Last chance for OK Attorney General to be part of constitutional challenge to storm bond Act

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Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor faces another deadline offer from the State Supreme Court for a constitutional challenge of the state’s securitization act passed last year over the February 2021 storm costs experienced by utilities.

The court gave the Attorney General until the end of Tuesday, March 15 to decide whether he wants to intervene in the legal challenge filed by former legislator Mike Reynolds. Should he decide to intervene by day’s end, the court would give him until April 15 to file a brief in the case.

Reynolds filed suit with the Supreme Court after OGE and the Oklahoma Development Finance Authority requested approval of the utility’s more than $800 million in storm costs that would be paid through the use of ratepayer-backed bonds. His lawsuit, separate from the ODFA case before the Supreme Court, contended the action by the ODFA and OGE constituted a state debt without the approval of voters. He said the approval by the legislature was a violation of the Oklahoma Constitution.

Attorney General O’Connor had also been offered an opportunity to intervene in the original ODFA and OGE request for approval from the supreme court but he chose not to intervene. Several protests were filed to the bond approval request and O’Connor’s decision not to be a part of the case prompted some ratepayers to complain to the court.

One of the last such filings was made March 11 by John E. Case, who had filed an earlier protest. In his Part II, as he described it, Case took issue with O’Connor’s “Notice of Non-Intervention” in which the Attorney General referred to his support for the securitization bonds because they “would save customers money.”

Case referred the Supreme Court to an OK Energy Today article about a recent study by Intelometry and presented to a meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. The study concluded that Oklahoma utilities paid the highest February 2021 Winter Storm costs of any state and the terms of Oklahoma’s proposed securitization plan would hit customers still harder.

(Click below to review the Case filing)