OGE contends it was a “victim” of winter storm market manipulation


A day after the Oklahoma Attorney General sued two natural gas suppliers and accused them of illegally hiking natural gas prices during the 2021 winter storm, a spokesman for Oklahoma Gas and Electric defended his utility and said it was a “victim” of the alleged market manipulation.

Bill Hume, Senior Counsel for OG&E rose to defend the company during the Corporation Commission’s review of the utility’s request for approval of its 2022 fuel costs.

“There has never been a finding, that OG&E did anything but pay the amount that was charged for the fuel,” he asserted.

“If there is indeed market manipulation as recent filings may indicate, some of the utilities, including OG&E are a victim of that market manipulation,” added Hume.

He referred to claims “bantied about” during Commission meetings that the utilities were at fault and in collusion with the marketers.

“We paid what they charged. We had to do it to keep the power on during the storm Uri—to keep people from actually dying. Again, if there is wrongdoing, it’s not the utilities–the utility is a victim of that wrongdoing.”

Questions had been raised earlier in the meeting by Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony whether some of the 2022 fuel costs were actually carried over from 2021 and how they involved some of the firms sued by Attorney General Gentner Drummond. A spokesman for the Attorney General responded by explaining the lawsuits stemmed from the state investigation that focused only on a 10-day period during the storm.

Commissioner Anthony also suggested if a utility sued one of the markets for the alleged market manipulation, then it was aware of some questionable activities. He did not mention a utility by name, but Oklahoma Natural Gas filed a more-than $6.9 million suit in late 2021 against NextEra Energy Marketing LLC.

In the suit, ONG accused NextEra of breaching fixed natural gas contracts and selling the gas at higher prices during the storm. NextEra defended its actions by saying the severe storm prompted the firm to declare force majeure, which explained it could not deliver because of an act of God and out of its control.

ONG and NextEra reached a confidential settlement in 2022.