Oklahoma regulators meet Thursday to consider a final vote on a proposed $30 million rate hike settlement reached in July by Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company.
The utility originally applied for a $163.5 million rate hike to cover its investments and costs but ran into a wall of opposition from customers already hit by recession and inflation. Hundreds filed public comments with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission including this customer:
“Over the past five quarters, OG&E has earned more than $432 million in profits and passed on hundreds of millions of dollars in mistakes to us, the customers. They are now asking us to line their pockets once again. I don’t think so.”
Others were equally blunt as one wrote the commission, stating, “this fee is uncouth” adding “This monopoly needs to end.”
Another wrote, “It would create a significant hardship at a time of desperate financial crisis. It has been a hard time already with the increase in prices.”
Still another complained, “Our monthly bills are already higher this year. Couple that with the record gasoline prices and inflation we haven’t seen in over 40 years, it is really unconscionable to think OG&E wants to burden their customers with an extra $10 a month, not for the electricity they use, but to help their profit margins.”
It was clear from the public opposition that the nation’s recession took a toll on utility customers who didn’t hesitate to voice their opinions.
By late July, OG&E reached an uncontested $30 million settlement to adjust base rates, one that would result in an average monthly increase of $2.07 for customers rather than $9.98.
The utility also included as part of the settlement a monthly increase to the Low Income Assistance Program credit, a new low-cost pricing plan for electric vehicle owners and a refund to customers related to a reduction in Oklahoma’s corporate income tax rate.
“The settlement is a fair compromise that provides great benefits for our customers while allowing us to recover critical and necessary investments made to improve the electric grid,” said Christi Woodworth, vice president of marketing and communications for OG&E in support of the deal.
Corporation Commissioners are expected to take a vote on the request during their Thursday meeting that starts at 9:30 a.m.