Arkansas Oklahoma Gas customers face possible rate increase



Oklahoma regulators will meet Thursday to consider whether to approve a more than $1 million base rate increase for the Arkansas Oklahoma Gas Company affecting its nearly 15,000 customers in Oklahoma.

An Oklahoma Corporation Commission Administrative law judge recommended an increase of $1,055,850, down from AOG’s original request of $1,352,783 made in April 2023. The original request was eventually lowered to $1,119,659, which would have resulted in $76.75 more a year for residential customers or translated to $6.40 more a month.

In opposing the original request, Attorney General Gentner Drummond called it a “large impact to customers,” and sided with the ALJ’s recommendations of the lower figure. He also takes issue with AOG’s short term incentive compensation expense between the company’s shareholders and ratepayers.

It is unfair, unjust, and unreasonable to force captive customers to pay for costs that are designed to motivate employees to reach financial and other metrics designed to benefit Summit’s shareholders,” argued the Attorney General in one filing with the Corporation Commission.

AOG made the argument that its last Performance Based Rate plan of $1.6 million was approved by the commission in 2022, but none of the increase was actually collected in 2022, thus affecting figures now being considered for a 2023 annual rate request.

At the same meeting, commissioners will consider a request by Commissioner Bob Anthony concerning the i-phone app called Signal, which allows users to delete certain messages, thus reflecting no information.

In his request for the item to be considered on the agenda, Commissioner Anthony referred to an Oklahoman news story on Dec. 14 which revealed officials at some state agencies are using the controversial app and doing business on their personal phones. The story suggested if state business communications were deleted using the app, it would be a violation of  the Open Records Act and Records Management Act, based on a 2002 Attorney General’s opinion.

Anthony suggests it would be a method for public officials and employees to “circumvent the open records laws simply by using privately owned personal electronic communication devices to conduct public business.”

In his request for the matter to be placed on the agenda, the commissioner raised the question, “Are any OCC officials or employees using, or have they used, any non-stategovernment-licensed apps or software for state business, including Signal, Snapchat, Telegram, WhatsApp, iMessage and other apps that could be configured to automatically delete government data and records?”

Discussion might also focus on the Corporation Commission’s Personnel Manual and Ethics Policy  and whether such apps or use of them, be covered.