While awaiting a ruling on its request for a rate increase, Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. is rolling out an interim increase and seeking to adjust its fuel costs.
The moves are expected to leave most OG&E customers paying less for their electricity.
“We believe that this is an equitable, short-term solution,” said OG&E spokesman Brian Alford. “We are able to cover our costs by implementing new rates, which are subject to refund should the (Oklahoma Corporation) Commission’s order ultimately provide for a lower increase. And, we can provide assurance to our customers that their summer bills will not go up as a result of our rate request. We understand our customers’ concern over high bills during the summer months.”
The utility company, which serves nearly 800,000 customers in Oklahoma and western Arkansas, asked the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to approve a $73 million rate increase last year to cover the cost of nearly $500 million in new investments over the previous two years.
Consumer advocates, including the Oklahoma attorney general’s office, countered by calling for a rate decrease ahead of a hearing before an administrative law judge at the corporation commission in December and January.
The judge has not issued a recommendation to the elected commissioners who will decide the rate case, so OG&E is moving forward with an interim increase.
The $24 million increase will be offset by a $50 million reduction in fuel costs due to lower-than-expected natural gas costs.
“During the past several years, we have invested well over $500 million in electric system improvements,” Alford said. “With significant additional investment on the horizon, we must keep our credit card balance in check, so to speak, so that we’re able to meet future investment needs.”
The interim rate increase will be refunded to customers if it is eventually rejected by regulators.
OG&E is allowed to enact the increase since it has been more than six months since the company filed its rate case.