Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony thinks he and the two other commissioners have a constitutional responsibility to question billions of dollars in utility fees and rates. Especially cases involving ratepayer-backed bond programs that will extend 25 to 28 years.
Fellow Commissioner Todd Hiett thinks Anthony is “always chasing some conspiracy theory.”
Commission Director of Administration Brandy Wreath thinks Commissioner Anthony has misrepresented some of his actions and is critical of the commission staff.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Commissioner Anthony continued his pursuit to obtain detailed finances of some utility hikes approved through the ratepayer-backed bond cases that won support last year of the Commission.
“I think we need detailed information,” said Anthony after citing the state constitution which said Commissioners have a legal obligation to do.
“This has been performed,” responded Chairman Hiett, defending his support of last year’s bond cases involving billions of dollars, and pointing out that the cases were closed.
“You’re trying to confuse the public and that’s very unfortunate,” he added. Hiett also accused Anthony of “wasting state resources.”
Anthony argued some of the cases were open and again raised his demand for detailed information to be supplied by the Public Utilities Division, a request that he said was denied.
Administration Director Brandy Wreath, who said he felt compelled to answer Anthony’s allegations, charged that Anthony was “impugning” the staff and the commissioners claims had a “tumultuous” impact on the Public Utilities Division.
“It’s a bad impression left with the public that prudency wasn’t done,” he said, referring to some of the cases in question. “You’re impugning their integrity. I’m asking that to stop and do it in a proper manner.”
“You’re trying to wrap yourself as the great protector of the employees,” responded Anthony who pushed again for his ability to obtain detailed financial information regarding the ratepayer-backed bond cases.
Hiett responded too, attacking Anthony.
“You’re trying to confuse the public. You have a reputation of confusing the public with a conspiracy theory. That’s all you’re doing. You’re always chasing some conspiracy theory.”
It proved the be the second harsh exchange between Commissioners Anthony and Hiett in the past few weeks. Hiett made similar pointed comments at a December meeting at which more than $2 billion in 2021 winter storm costs were allowed for ONG, OG&E, PSO and Summit.
Anthony argued against closing the cases and said the commission was “legally obligated” to investigate.
Then at a January Commission meeting, where Anthony sought again more information about winter storm costs, Hiett called Anthony’s efforts “nefarious.”
Before adjourning the meeting, Hiett told Anthony, “We know that’s your point. Your point is to bring this to try to once again to put out misinformation to the public. And to try to convey to the public that there’s something being hidden or there’s something nefarious.”