PSO claims ratepayers will see lower bills due to $2.4 billion renewable energy project

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Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners were told Tuesday that ratepayers of Public Service Company will eventually see a rate reduction through the company’s proposed $2.4 billion acquisition of solar and wind farms in Kansas and the Texas Panhandle.

“The benefits are immense,” testified Matt Horeled, Vice President of Regulatory and Finance for PSO during a hearing before Commissioners Todd Hiett and Kim David as well as Administrative Law Judge Linda S. Foreman.

“When all 6 facilities are on line in 2026, there’s actually a cost reduction of .48% for residential customers which is a reduction of 64 cents on a monthly bill. The cumulate total reduction is 2.35% or $2.58 on a monthly bill,” he stated under questioning at the special meeting.

However, before the cost reduction, ratepayers will also see an increase in their bills. PSO explained in a press release that the acquisition will mean an addition of 1.46% or $1.95 a month to customer bills starting in mid-2025. Then the net bill will decline starting in early 2026 due to lower fuel costs and federal tax incentives.

Horeled also said that the acquisition of the solar and wind farms will result in 89% to 90% guaranteed production of electrical power.

“That’s a fantastic guarantee coming from the company.”

As a result of the renewable energy resources, he explained PSO’s use of natural gas to power electricity-production, currently around 80%, will decline to 64% in the next 10 years.

“It means we will have a balanced portfolio going forward,” added Horeled.

The PSO executive testified at a hearing where details of a joint stipulation and settlement agreement were laid out before the ALJ and the commissioners. After the testimony of a few witnesses, the judge took the request under advisement.

Corporation Commissioners did not take a vote on the matter and will await the recommendation of Judge Foreman.

Among the groups that agreed to the settlement were the Commission’s Public Utilities Division, the Attorney General, Walmart, Inc., The Oklahoma Industrial Energy consumers and the Oklahoma Sustainability Network.

They had originally questioned aspects of the utility’s request for approval to acquire the three solar farms and three wind farms. The Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma had also objected to the request. While the Alliance did not sign the agreement, it did not oppose it either.

PSO agreed to include a cost cap of $2.47 billion for the project and to give production tax credits to customers over a 20-year period.

Public Service Company issued a press release after the meeting stating that under the settlement, 995.5 megawatts of renewable energy will be added to PSO’s generation mix in 2025.

“PSO’s Fuel-Free Power Plan is a balanced approach that enables PSO to continue providing reliable, affordable power to our customers and reduce price volatility from fuel,” said PSO President and Chief Operating Officer Leigh Anne Strahler.

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