PSO filing error leads to consumer groups wanting a restart on the utility’s $218 million rate hike request

Because of errors made when it filed a $218 million rate hike request with Oklahoma regulators, Public Service Company of Oklahoma might have to start the process over again—-if consumer groups get their way.
PSO found itself before the Oklahoma Corporation Commission last week fighting efforts by the Oklahoma Industrial Energy Consumers, AARP, Walmart and the Oklahoma Petrolum Alliance to convince commissioners to follow their rules and make the utility to restart its application process.
Here’s what sparked the issue. PSO’s initial application for the $218 million rate hike was filed Jan. 31 of this year.  Then on April 26, the utility filed a correction for material mistakes.
The material mistakes, as pointed out by attorney Thomas Schroedter with the OIEC amounted to significant increases in the rates that PSO customers would have to pay, if the $218 million rate hike request were to be approved.
The original request indicated the average residential customer’s bill would increase about $10 more a month. The corrected version would increase the monthly bill by 12% or $15.84 more a month. The OIEC attorney explained that PSO’s original intent was to collect $64 million in revenue from the residential class but the new request jumped it  to $92 million. The commercial class revenue went from $43 million to $61 million in the corrected version.
“PSO’s request for a waiver of Corporation Commission rules is not appropriate,” Schroedter told Commissioners. “It is imperative the notice to customers is accurate—this notice is not accurate.”
He argued that PSO’s request to continue forward should be denied and said the commission’s rule makes it clear that a filing cannot be amended after it was docketed.
The OIEC, AARP and other consumer groups want the commission to require PSO to refile the case or restart the 180 day filing period.
Jack Fite, an attorney for PSO responded.
“This is the way the Corporation Commission has worked for the past 30 years. They’re just trying to delay the case,” he said in reference to the OIEC, AARP and others. “There’s no reason for this case not to be processed.”
Schroedter, in a rebuttal to PSO’s arguments stated it was simply a request to enforce the rules.
“You need to be sensitive to customers—you need to consider the needs of the customers.”
Commission Chairman Todd Hiett admitted the case was unique and that it was necessary to think about the fairness to ratepayers. While he stated the case appeared to be “unfair to ratepayers,” Hiett urged the groups involved to huddle and see if they could reach an agreement. They returned nearly 30 minutes later and admitted they could not agree for any resolution.
The groups said they would meet again Monday and return to the commission when it meets Tuesday.