To Meet New EPA Rules, PSO Asking For Rate Increase

Wednesday, July 1st 2015, 11:43 pm
By: News On 6

The average PSO customer could have to pay $175 extra for electricity next year.

The electric provider has asked the corporation commission for a rate increase to cover the cost of complying with new EPA rules.

PSO said, if the rate increase is approved, the average customer can expect a monthly increase of about $14.53. That money would pay for new environmentally-friendly equipment at one of PSO's coal-fired plants.

Going green is trendy, but maybe not when it costs $175 more each year.

"I could see that cracking down a little bit on the budget," said PSO customer Amber Ramsey.

She spent the day enjoying the environment with her blended family of eight.

An almost $15 increase on her utility bill each month would be big.

"There are so many people struggling right now, you know, that don't have jobs or that are working for minimum wage that can't really afford that," she said.

Public Service Company of Oklahoma Spokesperson Stan Whiteford said the utility company must increase rates to comply with new EPA rules that will cost the company $650 million in new equipment.

"We understand what a challenge it can be for some of our customers to face a rate increase," Whiteford said.

The equipment complies with the EPA's Regional Haze Rule, by decreasing sulfur and mercury emissions and will be installed early next year at one of two coal-fired plants in Oologah.

3/20/2015 Related Story: PSO's Oologah Plant Adjusts To New EPA Standards

"It's going to result in much cleaner plants," said Whiteford.

Ramsey said, "But that's a lot of money, so it's kind of like, which is worse?"

Whiteford said the EPA's original plan would have cost the company a billion dollars, but PSO worked to get that cost down.

"You can't, not comply with EPA regulations, it's the law, we have to comply. How we go about complying was the trick here," he said.

But for the average Oklahoman, like Ramsey, a $175 rate increase each year could be tricky.

The EPA rules were not among those shut down by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this week.

PSO said its rates would still be two percent less than the state average.

The corporation commission now has 180 days to make a decision whether to allow PSO to increase rates. If it does, Whiteford said higher rates will go into effect early next year.