One utility doesn’t see need of long-term winter storm bills


Unlike Oklahoma-based utilities that used long-term bond financing of historically high natural gas bills during the 2021 Winter Storm Uri, Arkansas Oklahoma Gas is opting out of the method.

The Little Rock, Arkansas based company initially filed a request following the storm, seeking securitization to cover its more than $18 million in natural gas costs. Then it took BP Energy Company to court in a $34 million lawsuit for failing to supply contracted natural gas during the storm, and won.

It was the first utility in the state to hold the natural gas supplier accountable for the high prices during the storm. Oklahoma’s large utilities chose not to resort to lawsuits to recover their costs, nor to hold the gas supplier accountabler.

As OK Energy Today reported in May, a federal judge ruled in favor of AOG, a subsidiary of Summit Utilities based in Colorado. U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes awarded $18,033,617.90  to AOG, a company with 60,000 customers, many who live in eastern Oklahoma.

Now AOG is asking Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners to back out of the need for securitization, the process used by ONG, OGE and PSO. Commissioners on Tuesday will consider the request that already resulted in a stipualted settlement agreement with the Oklahoma Attorney General.

If approved, AOG customers will see an increase in their monthly utility bills of $9.91 and not the $15.31 had AOG continued with the securitization request. The company also plans a 15-year amortization of the debt.

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The Arkansas utility stated its winter storm costs in 2021 totaled $18,363,674 but the stipulated settlement also covers $523,000 in legal expenses.

“The proposed rate reflects the actual cost of refinancing the Winter Storm Costs and is less expensive than the allin cost of securitization would be if upfront and ongoing fees are considered,” testified Craig Root, Vice President and Corporate Treasurer at parent company Summit Utilities during a hearing.
I believe that a recovery period of fifteen years appropriately balances the need to achieve both objectives and reduces the risk that a second storm could create an additional burden on
ratepayers while the ratepayers are still repaying expenses associated with the 2021 Winter Storm.”
The company’s request will come during a meeting Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.