The Oklahoma AARP says 5,000 of its members helped lower PSO’s original rate hike request which was eventually lowered last Friday and approved by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
The members sent complaints to the commission when Public Service Company originally filed a $294 million rate hike request. However, the comments in opposition to the PSO rate hike were not mentioned by commissioners as they brieflly deliberated the request on Friday, approving it at the end of a 7-minute meeting.
“The voices of AARP Oklahoma members once again successfully rose in opposition to PSO’s proposed $294 million rate hike. While the proposed rate hike was not entirely eliminated, it was significantly reduced,” said Sean Voskuhl, AARP Oklahoma State Director.
He said because of AARP and the volunteer efforts of its members, they wee able to reduce the proposed $14 a month residential rate hike request to $5.35 a month, the amount approved in a special meeting on Friday.
“People are struggling to pay their bills, times are very tough financially right now for the majority of the public. We don’t make the money that the executives of pso make. I am sure they don’t have any trouble paying their electric bill if they even have one,” wrote one customer in an email to the Commission.
Many others complained they were on fixed incomes and cannot afford to pay more and others said social security was their only income.
“Oklahomans can’t afford another PSO rate hike while the utility pockets millions of dollars,” read the standard AARP complaint. “Please stop PSO’s money grab and stand up for customers like me.”
Voskuhl said the organization’s efforts helped reduce the monthly customer charge from $20 to $17 a month.
“More than 5,000 Oklahomans who wrote, called and emailed corporation commissioners put us in a position to negotiate a better deal for residential customers who are already forced to make difficult decisions between food, prescription drugs and keeping the lights on. We thank them for raising their voices.”
Voskuhl called it unfortunate the Commission did not adopt an increase cap of 2.5% which will now result in an overall increase of 3.7% for residential customers.
The corporation commissioners’ order also eliminates PSO’s proposed controversial formula rate plan, a move that could lead to more frequent or larger rate increases for customers.