PSO Says Rates To Go Up

Friday, May 16th 2008, 5:00 pm
By: News On 6

PSO says its rates are going up in June. The News On 6's Jeffrey Smith reports the average customer can expect to pay an extra $18 a month.

Many customers say when you add this cost to rising gas prices and food prices, they will be struggling to stretch their dollar any thinner.

Like most people, when Mildred Howell looks at the meter, she has no clue what the numbers mean, but the 77-year-old retiree understands the numbers behind PSO's new charges.

"Eighteen dollars more on my electric bill, that's one of my bills. And it's gonna put a strain on my budget," said Howell.

PSO says the price of gas has jumped 40% since last year.

"That is by far the driver of this, is the increase in the cost of natural gas. See, we have seven power plants here in Oklahoma, only one of them is coal-fired, all the rest burn natural gas," said PSO spokesperson Stan Whiteford.

The company says they have to increase charges.

"We're looking at the gas price forecasts, and using that to base what we're going to need, and what it's going to cost us for the next year," said Whiteford.

Even with rising gas costs, American Electric Power, PSO's parent company, is making big profits.

For the first quarter in 2004, AEP recorded a $278 million profit and sold at 70 cents a share.

For the first quarter of 2008, AEP earned $573 million in profit, selling at $1.43 a share.

PSO says that's unrelated.

"We don't make a penny off of fuel, and we have to, by law, just pass those costs, that we incur, directly on our customers, with no markup," said Whiteford.

"I'm sure it's going to get tough," said Howell.    

The company last increased electricity rates by $4 in October, but for Howell, this fuel adjustment is tougher.

"I'm going to have to cut back maybe on my groceries," said Howell.

And with summer fast approaching, she'll have to start paying closer attention to the numbers.

It's not official just yet. PSO is asking for the increase as part of its annual fuel cost adjustment.

The charge has to first be approved by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. That decision will be made in a few weeks.

Related Story:

05/15/2008 - PSO Wants You To Pay More