PSO wants higher rates–customers might see up to an 11% hike


Public Service Company of Oklahoma wants to increase rates—again.

It recently filed a request with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission for a $218 million rate hike which if approved, would bump residential customers rates by at least another 7% or $10 more a month.

There are a number of reasons why PSO filed this case, but the simplest answer is that PSO had to file as soon as possible because the rates approved are not adequate to provide PSO an opportunity to recover its costs and earn a reasonable return while providing safe and reliable service to our customers,” stated Matthew A. Horeled, Vice President, Regulatory and Finance for PSO in recent testimony about the case.

He went on to state that PSO has invested nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in generation, transmission and distribution plant  and incurred increased operation and maintenance expenses since the last base rate case. Horeled maintained “the capital investment is much too large to not be recovering and receiving a return.”

PSO’s actual investment was $239 million and if the request is approved, the total impact on customer bills, according to Horeled, would be 11% while the residential customer’s impact would be $10 or 7% more a month.

It is not possible to maintain a reliable utility system, meet the capacity requirements of the SPP, recover from major events like
the significant Father’s Day Storm, and comply with the Commission’s rules on providing service to customers without continuing to invest in the system,” explained Horeled in his testimony that was filed earlier in the year.

He explained that PSO must continually invest in its system to serve its customers and cited the 8-month period between Dec. 31, 2022 and Aug. 31, 2023 in which PSO invested $168.5million in the distribution system.

He said PSO invested $37.7 million on generation plants and $33.5 million in the transmission system.

These needed improvements work to assure a safe, reliable delivery of power to our customers,” stated the PSO executive. 

Horeled said the last rate hike approved by the Corporation Commission allowed only a 9.3% ROE or Return on Equity, not the 9.5% sought by PSO. He said PSO wants to correct the imbalance so it has the opportunity to earn a reasonable return “that is adequate to compensate the company’s investors.”

Horeled also complained of regulatory lag between the time of the investments and approval by regulators, saying it “negativelly affects the financial condition of the company and impacts our ability to serve customers now and into the future.”
“This excessive regulatory lag can lead to a flight of capital and investment from Oklahoma and increased costs.”
One change in PSO’s request was it did not seek approval of a Formula-based Rate Plan because Corporation Commissioners are still reviewing a Notice of Inquiry regarding the Performance Based Ratemaking proposal. PBR is one of two issues being considered as well by legislators and is opposed by some consumer groups.
“PSO understands there is a policy discussion currently occurring at the Commission and the Oklahoma legislature. PSO thought it appropriate to allow those discussions to develop further before proposing a plan.”
Horeled added the ommission of a request for an FRP “should not be constructed as PSO backing away from a timelier method of rate recovery.” He said PSO will make a request for some form of an alternative ratemaking mechanism in a future filing.