“A complicated issue,” is how Oklahoma Corporation Commission Chairman Todd Hiett described Tuesday’s handling of the $155 million rate hike request made by Public Service Company.
Thomas Schroedter, Executive Director and General Counsel to the Oklahoma Industrial Energy Consumers had another description.
“This is somewhat of a mess,” he told commissioners as they pondered how to handle PSO’s request, in which an Administrative Law Judge disagreed with those who signed a settlement agreement. The agreement was signed by PSO, the Public Utilities Division of the commission, the State Attorney General’s office and AARP.
Schroedter represented the OIEC which along with the U.S. Department of Defense, the Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma, Walmart Inc., and the Alliance for Electric Restructuring of Oklahoma declined to join in the settlement agreement last spring.
Why so complicated? Commissioners were not confident whether they should relitigate the original request, in other words, start all over with testimony from all those involved in the case. So they spent nearly 2 hours Tuesday listening to abbreviated arguments, both pro and con.
Adding to the complication was the recommendation by Administrative Law Judge Linda Foreman that one of three wind farms included in the PSO rate hike request not be included because it was added after a legal deadline in the case.
Hiett wasn’t sure that since ALJ Foreman rejected what he called a “non-settlement” in the case that the Commisson might have to take p the entirety of the record.
Schroedter argued, “it’s not really a settlement. Only four parties of 9 signed it and all of the major customers oppose it.”
The AARP’s counsel, Deborah Thompson disagreed and maintained her organization was looking out for customers.
“We know what we’re doing.”
PSO attorney Jack Fite pushed for approval of his company’s request.
“We have to use common sense,” he told commissioners.
Commissioner Bob Anthony asked the question, “Where do we go from here?”
Nothing was settled at the conclusion of the meeting. Commissioners decided to take the entire thing “under advisement.”
Thomas P. Schroedter serves as Executive Director and General Counsel