Despite a move by Oklahoma Natural Gas to increase its funding to help low income customers, it will mean other consumers will be forced to pay for the program.
Corporation Commissioners on Monday gave unanimous approval to ONG’s Demand Portfolio of Conservation and Energy Efficiency Programs which is an effort covering the next three years. With the 3-0 vote by Commissioners, the adoption will increase monthly bills for ONG residential customers by $1.42 for calendar years 2023 through 2025. It will also result in a yearly increase of $17.04.
Commission Chairwoman Dana Murphy, who supported the plan said at the outset, “It’s important to note, this should be a core of every Demand Portfolio—is to talk about what are the measures for the net benefits?”
She said the order includes approximately $32 million in net benefits to customers.
“I think when you look across the country, there’s really this move for all utilities to become more efficient to provide more programs that can benefit the customers”
While the Portfolio will help some consumers, it also drew criticism from the AARP Oklahoma, the same group that blasted last week’s ONG rate hike approved by Commissioners.
State Director Sean Voskuhl again questioned the Monday decision because it meant higher rates for ONG customers.
“When does it end? The Corporation Commission approves a third utility rate hike request from ONG in just a year, disregarding the economic struggles Oklahomans face.”
He said the back-to-back-to-back rate hikes will result in ONG customers paying another $144 a year. Voskuhl said it does not include the pass-through cost of natural gas, which will significantly increase bills going into winter.
“This broken record is breaking Oklahomans forced to choose between buying food, prescription drugs and outrageous utility bills. This must stop.”
Under the plan approved Monday by regulators, nine steps will be taken by ONG.
1. An increase in the budget for the Low–Income Energy Efficiency Assistance Program;
2. An increase in the budget for the tankless water heater component of the Water Heater Replacement Program;
3. An increase in the budget for the high efficiency gas furnace component of the Heating System Replacement Program, offset by a decrease in the budget for the electric to high efficiency gas furnace component of the program, which results in an overall decrease in the total budget dollars of the Heating System Replacement Program;
4. A reduction of the total budget dollars for the Natural Gas Clothes Dryer Replacement Program resulting from a reduction in the budget for the standard efficiency component and an increase in the budget for the high efficiency component to reflect current and anticipated participation levels;
5. An increase of total budget dollars for the New Homes Program, partially offset by a reduction in budgeted inducements for the installation of dryer stubs;
6. An increase of total budget dollars for the Commercial Custom Program;
7. A reduction in the amount budgeted for EM&V;
8. An increase of total budget dollars for Program Administration; and
9. An increase of total budget dollars for R&D.