AEP-PSO asking for a rate hike

Monday, November 3rd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The electric utility that services most of Tulsa County wants a rate increase. Public Service Company of Oklahoma says it's lost millions in the last year - and needs an increase to cover their bottom line.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says AEP-PSO wants a rate increase that would impact the 500,000 Oklahomans who buy electricity from the company. It’s the first time they've asked for an increase since PSO was bought out by Ohio based American Electric Power.

Alan Decker, PSO regulatory director: “the goal is a reasonable rate of return so we can charge the cost of providing the service fuel and everything, plus a rate of return.” PSO wants to increase rates by 3.6% - the change would affect all customers, both residential and commercial.

For the average home customer - that amounts to about $2.50 a month. PSO last got a rate increase in 1993. Rates dropped in 1997 - and they've remained there since. “If we get this rate increase, our rates will go back to the 1993 level of our rates.” When the state reviews PSO's rates - they'll also look at their customer service.

When PSO was taken over by AEP - customer complaints went way up. But lately - the number of complaints has dropped off. AEP-PSO says it needs the money to meet the increased cost of doing business - things outside the cost of fuel for their power plants.

The company wants to recover $36-million it said it lost last year - a loss blamed on the rising cost of doing business in general and specifically on the cost of repairs caused by Oklahoma's stormy weather.

The state of Oklahoma needs several months to look at the request for a rate increase. If they approve it - rates could go up as soon as next summer.