Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Kim David says the subpoena sent to her and two other commissioners as well as the agency’s staff by Attorney General Gentner Drummond in a widend winter storm market manipulation investigation doesn’t apply to her.
“I reviewed the Attorney General’s subpoena and have been advised that a response from me is not necessary since the dates involved, February 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022, occurred prior to my time as a Commissioner,” replied the commissioner in an email response to an inquiry by OK Energy Today.
Drummond’s subpoena was sent earlier in the week and sought communications the staff and commissioners might have exchanged with the creation of the bonds that allowed OGE, ONG and PSO to create long-term payments by their customers. The use of the bonds helped the utilities avoid paying for historic high natural gas prices that occurred in the February 2021 Winter Storm Uri. Instead, consumers are paying and will be paying for up to a quarter of a century.
The approval of the Act that allowed the utilities to use securitization and bonds was created by the legislature within a few months after the storm crippled Oklahoma and other states, producing rolling blackouts and critical challenges for utilities to keep electricity being produced.
Commissioner David took office in January of this year after former Commissioner Dana Murphy was term-limited. David became a commissioner after votes were taken to approve what the utilities did.
However, Murphy was involved in the Commission’s approval of the use of the securitization and the bonds used by the utilities. Most of the votes were 2-1 as Commissioner Todd Hiett supported her while Commissioner Bob Anthony protested, arguing there were too many questions about unnecessary costs associated with what the utilities were doing.
Commissioner Anthony already responded by turning over 4,000 emails to the Attorney General. Commission Chairman Hiett informed OK Energy Today he was preparing a submission of his communications. It remains unclear whether the Attorney General’s subpoena would involve any emails former Commissioner Murphy had in the time period in question—Feb. 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022. It is unknown whether those emails still exist in the agency’s computerized system.
The Attorney General’s office is also not answering any more questions regarding the subpoena, except to say, “Attorney General Drummond promised Oklahomans he would do everything in his authority to hold accountable bad actors who raked in billions of dollars in ill-gotten gains. These efforts remain ongoing and will continue until proper relief for ratepayers is secured.”
Drummond’s subpoena appeared to be in response to his exchange of communications with Commissioner Anthony in which the Attorney General advised the commissioner to either provide documentation of his claims of wrongdoing or to stop making the claims.
The Attorney General notified Anthony in an Oct. 30 letter and the commissioner immediately responded by pointing out he had already given the documentation of wrongdoing to Drummond as a candidate and to two of his Assistant Attorneys General. Anthony’s claims have also been made public in filings he made over the course of the past year on Corporation Commission cases.
Neary a week after Anthony responded, the Attorney General filed the subpoena. The Attorney General has not offered any public comments except to say his investigation has widened.
It was in May of this year when Drummond announced a preliminary investigation led him to believe it was necessary to file a possible lawsuit of historic value in a bid to recover billions of dollars for ratepayers. At the time, however, he said the state’s oil and gas industry had nothing to do with the claims of price gouging that occurred during the storm.
He also hired an Oklahoma City law firm to carry out the lawsuit. The suit has yet to be filed and now Drummond’s investigation has taken yet another turn.