Oklahoma regulators keep PSO rate hike case on the move

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Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners decided Tuesday to let an Administrative Law Judge issue a recommendation to them regarding the $155 million rate hike request made by Public Service Company of Oklahoma.

Commission chairman Todd Hiett preferred using a legal term known as a “sua sponte order” in which the case could be assumed by the Commission without receiving a recommendation from the ALJ.

As defined, “In law, sua sponte (Latin: “of his, her, its or their own accord”) or suo motu (“on its own motion”) describes an act of authority taken without formal prompting from another party. The term is usually applied to actions by a judge taken without a prior motion or request from the parties.”

Hiett repeated he remained opposed to the settlement agreed to by the Commission’s Public Utilities Division, the Attorney General, the AARP and PSO. He did not reveal any specifics of his opposition but wanted the commission to take over the next steps.

“The way to solve this is to take the case en banc and appoint the Judge as a referee to assist the commission,” explained Hiett.

However, Commissioners Kim David and Bob Anthony indicated they wanted to hear a recommendation from the Judge who spent 3 days in a hearing with PSO and other groups, some that favored the rate hike request and others that opposed it.

“My first inclination was to get the ALJ report,” explained Commissioner David. “I personally would support getting the report.”

“That’s my position too,” said Commissioner Anthony.

“Judge Foreman, you’re gonna have to go back to work,” responded Commissioner Hiett.

A schedule for the rate hike case included the ALJ issuing a recommendation to the Commission in July. Hiett said it would be mid-August before PSO and others would have an opportunity to make oral arguments and presentations before the commission. A ruling from the commission would not be likely until September.

In an unusual move, Attorney General Gentner Drummond was personally on hand for the meeting and his presence was noted at the start of the meeting by Commissioner Hiett.

Commissioner Anthony attempted to allow Drummond make any comments but his effort was quickly halted by Teryl Williams, Chief Legal Counsel to the Commission.

She pointed out Drummond’s individual comments were not included on the meeting agenda and it would be a violation to give him special privilege.




possible vote(s) on a potential proposal for a sua sponte Order
Advancing the case to the Commission en banc, with the Administrative Law Judge
as a Referee, for deliberations and a final decision. The discussion and possible
vote(s) may include any alterations, revisions, or amendments proposed at the
meeting to any potential order advancing.
B. If a majority of the Commission votes to approve an o