PSO Asks Oklahoma Corporation Commission For Large Rate Hike

Wednesday, October 20th 2010, 4:33 pm
By: News On 6

Craig Day, News On 6

TULSA, OK --  Public Service of Oklahoma has requested a nearly $52 million rate increase, but a group representing companies across the state says not so fast.

PSO, which provides electricity to 530,000 customers in Oklahoma has gone to the state Corporation Commission requesting a rate hike.

"The thing to remember, for the average customer the average impact is going to be less than $4 a month," said Stan Whiteford, PSO Spokesman.  

That increase would enable the utility to make up for a $52 million revenue deficiency.

"We've submitted testimony. We've submitted what we believe shows the commission clearly where there is a deficiency in the revenues for us," according to Whiteford.

But the Oklahoma Industrial Energy Consumers group, which represents industrial customers across the state, is challenging the proposed hike.  The group says it's not appropriate in the current economic environment.

The OIEC not only wants the commission to reject the rate hike, they're also asking for an $18 million reduction for consumers.

Whiteford says the rate hike is needed.  "The way that we are best able to provide our customers with safe reliable service is if we are financially sound as well."

Whiteford says the utility had hoped to put off a request until next Summer, giving the economy more time to improve.

But he says PSO was required by a previous corporation commission ruling in a 2009 rate case to go ahead at this point with any request.

According to Whiteford, "That case when that finished, the order said 'fine, you get this, but at the same time we're going to require you to file again in July so that we can review the prudence of that decision, and just take a look at your books overall.'"

By forcing action on the issue now, opponents hope it could mean a break for customers if the commission agrees to a rate reduction.

If the rate hike is approved rather than rejected or lowered, the increase would likely go into effect in January.

 The Corporation Commission will begin hearings on the rate hike proposal on December 6th.
 It will set aside time for public comment during the proceedings.