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PLANS to ease price spikes ordered

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma's largest natural gas and electric companies were ordered Thursday to present plans to ease the impact of volatile energy prices on consumers.

As part of its order, the three-member rate-making Oklahoma Corporation Commission gave its blessing to two pilot programs and to ``the search for market hedging methods and risk management programs which present a diversified, balanced portfolio aimed at reducing exposure to high prices for both consumers and the utilities.''

The commission voted to permit Oklahoma Natural Gas Co. to proceed with a 12-month pilot program starting in the fall of 2002.

The program will allow customers the chance to take part in ``a fixed price payment plan designed to avoid the volatile aspects of spot market pricing,'' the commission said.

Under the plan, ONG will be allowed to collect ``reasonable and prudent costs.''

Also approved was a plan by Arkla-Reliant Energy Resources Inc., known as Arkla, for financial transactions not to exceed 10 percent of its gas supply over a 12-month period.

The commission also will review hedging programs of Public Service Company of Oklahoma and Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co.

``This is an historic event to have all four of our major utilities in the state come in at the same time to explain their portfolio and be able to compare and contrast what the different companies are doing,'' said Denis Bode, commission chairman.

She said the program will allow consumers to be protected from the price spikes that occurred last winter.
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