BOARD saw gas spike problem last April

Thursday, July 12th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The Oklahoma Corporation Commission lifted a confidentiality order Wednesday in the Oklahoma Natural Gas Co. overcharge case after ONG's parent company agreed to the release of a document.

Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony scolded the attorney for the parent company, ONEOK, Inc., for initially objecting to the release of an exhibit, requiring a hearing on the confidentiality question.

Anthony said the objection was ``a disservice to the public,'' causing further delay on the ONG case, which focuses on Corporation Commission staff arguments that ONG overcharged its customers $72 million last winter. Officials of the utility deny any overcharge occurred.

The commission voted unanimously to lift its protective order prohibiting the release of a resolution adopted by the ONEOK board of directors.

The resolution was adopted on April 20, 2000. It states that ONEOK directors believe that it ``is prudent and advisable'' for company officials to manage the price risk of a list of commodities that includes natural gas.

The board directed officials of ONEOK to implement policies, including those covering the purchase and sale of commodity futures, that are in ``the best interests of this Corporation.''

Anthony said the resolution was put under a protective order after an attorney for ONEOK signed a letter of objection.

A hearing was scheduled on the matter after separate Open Records Act requests were lodged by KWTV and the Oklahoma Constitution newspaper.

ONG and other subsidiaries of Tulsa-based ONEOK Inc. have refused to turn over records sought by the Corporation Commission's staff, which has accused ONG of faulty analysis of the gas supply situation and failure to act to protect its customers.

ONG bought two-thirds of its gas from ONEOK Energy Marketing and Trading under a competitively bid contract that bundled gas and storage together. ONG and OEMT are both owned by ONEOK.

Don Sherry, ONG spokesman, said the price spikes ONG experienced last winter occurred nationwide and were not caused by policies of the Oklahoma company.