Consumers group opposes PSO’s $2.5 billion renewable energy plan

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When Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners meet Tuesday, they will deal with at least two subjects that could prompt some compelling comments and discussion.

One involves the $2.47 billion renewable energy plan proposed by Public Service Company of Oklahoma in which it is asking Commission approval of its cost recovery plan. The project involves PSO’s acquisition of three solar farms and three wind farms in the Texas Panhandle and southern Kansas, an acquisition that would result in a nearly $4 increase in a typical customer’s monthly bill.

In a filing last week,  an expert hired by the Oklahoma Industrial Energy Consumers  group opposed the project as laid out by PSO.

Scott Norwood, of Norwood Energy Consulting based in Austin, Texas testified the capital cost of PSO’s renewable resources is “extraordinarily high” and 84% higher than the utility forecasted in its 2021 Integrated Resource Plan and $1.56 billion more than it’s $908 million acquisition cost for its North Central Energy Facilities wind energy project.

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He recommended the Corporation Commission deny PSO’s request for approval to acquire the proposed renewable resources and at the same time, order the utility to evaluate the conversion of its Northeastern Unit to burn natural gas.

A second matter that might produce more than the usual Corporation Commission-style discussion of matters is a nearly 17-year old pooling case. Optima Oil and Gas of Colorado is seeking to reopen the case while it is opposed by Mewbourne Oil Company.

Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony, in a filing noted his hesitancy to handle the matter because of his past criticism over the continued discussion of the issue.

In 2017, he made a filing in the pooling request, pointing how at that time, the matter was more than eleven years old and also “raises questions about the integrity of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.”

The Commissioner stated at the time the case involved “alleged intrinsic fraud” in which it was even duped by representatives of one of the companies.

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Intrinsic fraud? As OK Energy Today reported in 2017, the case wound up before the Oklahoma Supreme Court. It involved an unopened letter of notice in which one firm slyly did not reveal knowledge of opposition to pooling by the other firm.