Oklahoma regulators push for more legal action to recover 2021 winter storm costs


At least two of Oklahoma’s three Corporation Commissioners hope the state attorney general’s lawsuits filed against energy suppliers accused of market manipulation during the 2021 winter storm lead to more legal actions to help ratepayers.

“I am thankful the AG says he “will pursue additional litigation against other … bad actors [who] reaped billions of dollars in ill-gotten gains” from the February 2021 Winter Storm,” said Commissioner Bob Anthony in a statement released following the filing of the lawsuits by Attorney General Gentner Drummond.

“Hopefully the beneficiaries of his next actions will include the residential retail customers of the state’s largest monopoly public utilities – customers victimized not only by “market manipulation” during the storm but by an unnecessary ratepayer-backed bond financing scheme fraught with hiring irregularities, cost discrepancies, apparent overpayments, and a billion-dollar cost overrun.”

Anthony noted the lawsuits were in support of the Grand River Dam Authority and not for ratepayers.

Commissioner Kim David expressed similar support hoping overpayments made as a result of the historic natural gas prices during the storm can be made.

While these lawsuits were filed on behalf of the Grand River Dam Authority, I am hopeful that the Attorney General will pursue additional litigation against other companies so that all determined overpayments may be returned to Oklahoma ratepayers. I appreciate today’s announcement and will monitor these lawsuits as they move forward.” 

The filing of the lawsuits was welcomed by Sean Voskuhl, AARP Oklahoma State Director.

“This is welcome news from Attorney General Drummond for Oklahomans struggling with higher utility costs.”

He said the companies who “reaped billions of dollars on the backs of hard-working Oklahomans during Winter Storm Uri must be held accountable. Frustrated utility customers have been demanding to know why they are paying for a “once-in-a-generation” storm for decades.”

Voskuhl said not only are Oklahomans relieved that action is being taken, “they further demand the recovered funds are returned to the utility customers immediately.”

The suits filed in Osage County District Court were against Energy Transfer and its merged firm with Enable Midstream and against Symmetry Energy Solutions.

Energy Transfer issued a statement on Thursday, saying it strongly disputes the allegations made by the AG of Oklahoma and looks forward to vindicating the Partnership and its actions in court.

” We are confident that Enable’s business operations which were conducted prior to our merger were conducted according to all rules and regulations with full transparency before, during and after the storm in 2021. We continue to be thankful to our employees for their heroic efforts in many cases that went into keeping our Partnership operating during such an unprecedented event – even as many of them faced personal issues at the same time. Many worked around the clock to ensure that systems were maximized to the fullest extent possible to provide critical gas supply. ”

Symmetry Energy Solutions also issued a statement.

“Symmetry Energy Solutions is reviewing the lawsuit filed today by the State of Oklahoma. Symmetry, like many others, suffered the adverse effects of Winter Storm Uri and adamantly denies the unfounded allegations in the lawsuit, which it will vigorously defend.”

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, the firm’s website says it is a leading energy supplier providing more than 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas to more than 100,000 customers in more than 30 states.

Symmetry Energy Solutions came out of the 2020 sale by CenterPoint Energy, Inc. of CenterPoint Energy Services to Energy Capital Partners, LLC. As a result, CES changed its name to Symmetry Energy Solutions, LLC.