Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony has come out swinging against the Commission’s Administration Director who ordered staff last week to no longer perform any work related to the controversial Winter Securitization bond cases.
In an opinion filed this week, Commissioner Anthony, a strong critic of the bonds used by OGE, ONG, PSO and CenterPoint Energy, launched criticism of Brandy Wreath, who was named in June to be Administrator for the Commission. Wreath was previously the Commission’s Director of Public Utilities Division.
What prompted the attack on Wreath was his Oct. 20 memo in which he halted the use of Commission staff to explore Anthony’s quest to learn “Who got paid how much for what?”
“I need to notify all offices that Divisions will be instructed to no longer perform any work related to closed Securitization cases until filings in the future which bring it back before the Commission. I do not want our employees involved in the ongoing politically-charged discussions around this topic. I also do not believe it is an appropriate use of OCC state resources,” wrote Wreath.
He wasn’t finished in his memo.
“If there are concerns or investigations to be conducted, they need to be done by qualified agencies and in an open and transparent case before the OCC where all parties can answer questions and/or allegations which besmirch their character, impugn their integrity, and threaten their very livelihood.”
An obvious angry Anthony issued his response in the form of an opinion, explaining he had asked Commission staff to provide him with specific information regarding the expenses in the Winter Securitization cases. Anthony claims there have been more than $1 billion in cost overruns in the cases and it’s important to learn the details since the overruns are being charged to ratepayers.
“The nature of the “blank check” financing orders approved by Commissioners Hiett and Murphy in these cases dictated that such specific expense information would not and could not be known until the bonds were finally issued (the last on October 17, 2022). But for some reason, as indicated in the following October 20, 2022 email, OCC Director of Administration Brandy Wreath does “not believe it is an appropriate use of OCC state resources” for OCC Staff to “perform any work related to” the Securitization cases, including answering these important questions about the final expenses in these cases, and he has “instructed” staff not to respond,” declared the Commissioner.
Commissioner Anthony defended his search for information about the cost overruns and the use of Commission staff to do it.
“In light of my ongoing constitutional duties and responsibilities as a Corporation Commissioner, I object to any form of coercion, intimidation or threat that attempts to prevent, obstruct, limit or otherwise interfere with my ability to discharge the duties of my office, especially my constitutional rights and duty to protect, obey and defend the Oklahoma Constitution, demand transparency about public utility costs being charged to the public, and, when appropriate, seek justice for ratepayers,” stated the Commissioner in his opinion.
” I suggest the Director of Administration reconsider his directive to OCC Staff and determine how best to protect Commissioners from interference with their constitutional duties, especially when it may involve multi-billion dollar public utility regulation matters,” concluded Anthony.
It’s known that the Commissioner had private concerns about Wreath’s handling of the bond cases that now total billions of dollars in bond costs to be paid by ratepayers. He felt Wreath, as Director of Public Utilities should have offered more defense for ratepayers and more resistance to the demands of the utilities.
Below is Wreath’s full memo announcing a halt into providing Anthony with more information about the Winter Securitization cases.
“I need to notify all offices that Divisions will be instructed to no longer perform any work related to closed Securitization cases until filings in the future which bring it back before the
Commission. I do not want our employees involved in the ongoing politically-charged discussions around this topic. I also do not believe it is an appropriate use of OCC state resources. If there are concerns or investigations to be conducted, they need to be done by qualified agencies and in an open and transparent case before the OCC where all parties can answer questions
and/or allegations which besmirch their character, impugn their integrity, and threaten their very livelihood.
I would request any Securitization-related information needed by a Commissioner’s office be handled by their statutorily-appointed employees. As always, if a majority of the Commission makes a posting and votes to guide further work, the divisions will happily
respond. Because of these concerns, in order to assure these matters are handled in a transparent and accountable manner, please send any questions in writing to me and Pat Franz.
Please note that I notified appropriate agencies weeks ago and requested investigations of all concerns raised.
Mr. Brandy Wreath, Agency Director of Administration Oklahoma Corporation Commissionp. 405-522-3356Oklahoma.gov | https://oklahoma.gov/occ.html3CASE PUD 2022-000097 ENTRY NO. 36 FILED IN OCC COURT CLERK’S OFFICE ON 10/28/2022 – PAGE 3 OF 3