AG tells regulators to re-do the PSO rate hike


Attorney General Gentner Drummond intervened Monday in a recent Public Service Company of Oklahoma rate hike case, telling Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners to re-do the rate hike.

He filed two motions asking the regulators to modify their final order on the PSO rate request “to ensure greater relief for residential customers,” stated the Attorney General’s press release. The press release pointed out that the final order, approved on a 2-1 vote with opposition coming from Commissioner Bob Anthony, did not match the original settlement agreement.

In an initial settlement agreement hammered out by the Utility Regulation Unit of the Attorney General’s office, the AARP, and the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s own Public Utility Division, PSO’s proposed monthly residential increase was reduced from an average of $14 to $3.57, the result of a negotiated cap on the residential increase of 2.5 percent.

Despite the agreement, Corporation Commissioners made several modifications, resulting in a final order that significantly increases residential rates compared to the settlement agreement. This equates to an average monthly increase of $5.35 for residential customers, an amount 50 percent higher than the settlement negotiated by Attorney General Drummond.

“PSO ratepayers deserve better,” Drummond said. “I take my role of advocating for public utility consumers very seriously. My office worked diligently to craft an agreement to protect ratepayers as much as possible, and I am extremely disappointed that it was cast aside in favor of higher bills for residential customers. With inflation through the roof, consumers are already paying too much for basic goods and services. The last thing they need is unnecessary rate increases.”

Wayne Greene, a spokesman for PSO said the company agreed that the Attorney General was correct and the Corporation Commission should adopt the agreement as originally stipulated.

“The agreement was reached through a collaborative process and allows PSO to make critical infrastructure investments while keeping prices competitive. We also agree it’s important to maintain the cost allocations in the agreement to ensure residential customers do not subsidize larger customers,” added Greene.

“We are hopeful the Commissioners will carefully consider the motion, particularly given the Attorney General’s important role representing customers in this process.”

In the motions filed Monday, Drummond asked Corporation Commissioners to modify their final order to approve the previous settlement agreement. If the Commission does not approve the agreement, a second motion seeks a reinstatement of the lower residential rate to keep costs down for ratepayers and hold them harmless from the Commission’s modifications to the settlement agreement.

Read today’s motions here and here.

Source: AG press release