Corporation Commissioner says OGE won’t be allowed to pass State Fair contribution to ratepayers

Commissioner David headshot


Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Kim David came out expressing some reservations about OG&E’s huge donation that resulted in the naming of a new State Fair Arena in honor of the utility and vowed the contribution won’t be passed on to ratepayers.

The State Fair Board announced the naming of the OG&E Coliseum that is being constructed to replace the historic Jim Norick arena on the fairgrounds. On Thursday, Commissioner David issued a statement.

“As an elected regulator charged with overseeing Oklahoma’s electric companies, I am concerned that as OG&E is asking the Corporation Commission to approve a rate increase, OG&E’s parent company’s foundation is making a large charitable donation for naming rights to the new Oklahoma City fairgrounds arena.”

In her statement, the Commissioner assured OGE customers that the utility’s contribution, an amount that remained confidential as part of an agreement with the State Fair board, would not be passed on to ratepayers.

“The contribution was made from OGE Energy Corp. Foundation, which is funded by shareholder dollars and, like all other charitable contributions from OGE Energy’s Foundation is not recoverable from customers and never has been.”

David commended OGE Energy Corp. Foundation for making the contribution by using funds from the sale of Enable Midstream Partners.

But she also promised to “continue to monitor and ensure that our regulated utilities are responsible stewards of ratepayer dollars.”

OGE filed a rate hike several months ago and in a January filing, defended its request for a hike of $332 million. If approved, it would result in a 13% increase in monthly rates for consumers.

OGE said it needed the rate hike approval and cited the biggest reason was “the additional capital investment since the last rate case.”

Kimber Shoop, director of regulatory affairs at OG&E said under questioning the capital investment was directed at the power delivery system and OG&E’s generating facilities.

Given Oklahoma has increasingly extreme weather conditions, OG&E is focusing on investments in transmission, distribution and grid enhancement/hardening to improve reliability and resiliency during events that are outside the control of the Company,” stated Shoop. He explained OG&E has invested $987 million in the past two years on its power delivery system.

Ground was broken on the OG&E Coliseum 13 months ago and once it’s complete, the coliseum will seat up to 7,500 people for a variety of events including high school basketball tournaments, bull riding and concerts.

The naming rights contract carried a confidentiality requirement concerning OGE’s contribution. The majority of the funding, $82 million, came from MAPS 4 while $25 million is earmed from Oklahoma City’s hotel and motel tax.

Ron Norick, former Oklahoma City mayor and now chairman of the Oklahoma State Fair board of directors said it was known from the beginning that the coliseum part of the MAPS 4 budget wasn’t enough to cover the entire cost of the new arena.

“Multiple funding sources needed to come together to bridge the gap. We are extremely thankful that the OGE Energy Corp. Foundation stepped up with their generous donation. Without them, we would not have been able to build the coliseum we are building today.”