The waiting is about over for Public Service Company executives and lawyers who went before an Administrative Law Judge last month with their $155 million request for a rate hike.
The ALJ who presided over the three-day hearing could have a recommendation when the Corporation Commission meets Tuesday, June 6.
The agenda referenced PSO’s request and indicated the ALJ could advance the case to the commission and a possible vote by commissioners might held when they meet at 1:30 p.m.
“If a majority of the Commission votes to approve an order advancing the case, the Commission may proceed to deliberate on the merits of the case, including stipulations and settlement agreements proposed by a party or parties,” stated the agenda.
PSO faced strong opposition from the Oklahoma Industrial Energy Consumers group and AERO, the Alliance for Electrical Restructuring in Oklahoma.
Those two organizations raised the strongest objections to PSO’s request, with AERO arguing “no rate increase can be justified in the present economic circumstances for the citizens of Oklahoma.”
Others that opposed the request were the Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma and the Department of Defense.
In support of a settlement agreement with PSO were the Attorney General, the Corporation Commission’s Public Utilities Division and the AARP.
Questions were raised about PSO’s acquisition of the Rock Hill wind farm in the northern Oklahoma Kay and Grant Counties and how the company intended to include the cost even though the acquisition was not finalized until after PSO’s initial filing of the rate hike request.
Critical challenges and questions were also raised about PSO’s inclusion of an IRS request for a tax deferment issue in the case. The utility submitted the request months ago and has yet to receive any response whether it can receive the deferments as part of the $155 million rate hike request. Critics raised the question how it could be included when the utility has not received an answer.
Corporation Commissioner Kim David, who sat as an observer on the three-day hearing, wondered at the conclusion of the hearing how the commission could approve something without knowing the final answer from the IRS.
Commission Chairman Todd Hiett, who also attended as an observer, might have given the most damning of comments about the PSO request, when he stated at the conclusion of the hearing he could not support the settlement as it had been drawn up.
Commissioner Bob Anthony did not publicly attend the hearing, explaining he felt such a practice of simply being an observer could be intimidating to the ALJ and witnesses.