Corporation Commissioner says Arkansas Oklahoma Gas did the right thing…other utilities did no


When Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners voted Tuesday to dismiss a 2021 application by Arkansas Oklahoma Gas Corporation to finance its historic fuel cost debt from the winter storm using securitization and ratepaer-backed bonds, it prompted Commissioner Bob Anthony, in an opinion filing, to state AOG did the right thing in trying to reduce debt before financing it and passing it along to ratepayers.

His opinion filing came after he joined Commissioners Todd Hiett and Kim David in voting to approve dismissal of the Fort Smith, Arkansas based company’s initial request. AOG, with about 58,000 customers, also falls under the legal review of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission because some of its customers are in Oklahoma.

In his 3-page opinion, Anthony suggested what AOG did is also what ONG, OG&E and PSO should have done instead of using long-term ratepayer backed bonds. He also noted how AOG took oil giant BP to court and won, accusing the firm of breach of contract during the winter storm. As a result, AOG managed to reduce the cost to its Oklahoma customers by $3.5 million.

“Every Oklahoma public utility that paid exorbitant prices for natural gas during the February 2021 Winter Storm had a public duty to do what AOG did and demand accountability from suppliers that breached their contracts and declared force majeure,” Anthony wrote in the opinion. 
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“The fact that ONG, OG&E and PSO evidently didn’t is the opposite of ‘fair, just, reasonable and prudent;’ it’s reprehensible.  The fact that the Oklahoma Corporation Commission didn’t do its duty to protect ratepayers and hold those big public utilities accountable for failing in their public duty to their customers is equally derelict and shameful.” 

Commissioner Anthony wrote that AOG did its public duty by holding suppliers accountable, something he said highlighted the “willing failures” of Oklahoma’s three largest monopoly public utilities.

As a result of those failures, he said, “their customers will, unjustly and unnecessarily, pay dearly for decades to come.”

Read Anthony’s full Concurring Opinion here: