Energy firms dispute AG’s market manipulation lawsuits


The companies sued by Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond and accused of market manipulation during the 2021 Winter storm that gripped Oklahoma contend the lawsuits should be thrown out of Osage County District Court where they were filed.

Drummond filed the suits in Osage County in April contending the alleged misdeeds by Symmetry and Enable companies affected the Grand River Dam Authority, a state agency.

Oklahoma Watch reported on the most recent responses of the two companies and how they contend they did nothing wrong and the lawsuits should be dismissed.

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The lawsuits, prepared with the help of Oklahoma City law firm Foshee & Yaffe, allege Enable subsidiaries and Symmetry Energy Solutions LLC separately manipulated their parts of the natural gas pipeline systems in the state to boost prices before and during the storm.

The lawsuits said the companies reaped billions of dollars in extra profit from their wrongful conduct and the resulting surge in prices during the storm. GRDA, a public power utility, provides electricity to 24 counties, as well as several municipalities and electric cooperatives. Its largest customer is a Google data center in Mayes County.

“I believe the level of fraud perpetrated on Oklahomans during Winter Storm Uri is both staggering and unconscionable,” Drummond said in a press release. “While many companies conducted themselves above board during that trying time, our analysis indicates that some bad actors reaped billions of dollars in ill-gotten gains. It is important that we do everything in our power to hold bad actors accountable for their actions.”

Symmetry, a natural gas marketer, said the GRDA had no problems with its ongoing contract to supply natural gas to the public utility’s generation units before, during and after the storm. GRDA provides electricity to 24 counties, as well as several municipalities and electric cooperatives.

“Instead, the Attorney General of Oklahoma invoked his statutory power to file suit on behalf of a state agency that does not appear to share his concerns,” Symmetry’s attorneys said in a June 14 filing.

Drummond, who announced possible lawsuits from high natural gas prices last summer, has said repeatedly that Oklahoma utilities or state-based oil and gas companies were not to blame for the historic prices in February 2021. Symmetry’s filing called that a bogus distinction that ignores the realities of the energy industry. It asked the court to dismiss the case or at least move the dispute to the district court in either Mayes or Tulsa County.

“Though Symmetry serves the GRDA from its Tulsa office, it fell outside the Attorney General’s blanket absolution of Oklahoma companies because it is headquartered in Houston, Texas,” the filing said.

Symmetry said it turned over documents to former Attorney General Mike Hunter in 2021 after he announced an investigation into natural gas prices. His governor-appointed successor, John O’Connor, then said in early 2022 that he was dropping an investigation into possible price gouging. Symmetry said the statute of limitations has expired for now-Attorney General Drummond to bring complaints over natural gas prices.