OG&E will ask for rate increases because of ice storm

Tuesday, April 9th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The state's largest utility plans to ask for a rate increase to recover at least some of the $140 million lost in the January ice storm.

Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. said it will ask the Oklahoma Corporation Commission for the rate increase and withdraw $10 million of its January request for a $22 million rate hike.

OG&E had nearly $140 million in damages to the system after the Jan. 30 storm that snapped power poles and left thousands of residents without power for weeks.

The storm damage was the worst in the utility's history, said Paul Renfrow, director of public affairs for OGE Energy Corp., OG&E's parent company.

OG&E, which serves about 650,000 customers, previously estimated the storm could add several dollars a month to the average bill for years.

OG&E has not determined how large the rate increase will be, company spokesman Brian Alford said Tuesday.

Officials had said there was a chance federal disaster money would be available to the company.

OG&E generally budgets about $5 million a year for storm damage costs. The Christmas 2000 ice storm cost OG&E about $18 million, and the tornado outbreak of May 3-4, 1999, cost about $21 million.

The utility filed a $22 million rate increase Jan. 28. About $10 million of that request was for heightened security needs after the Sept. 11 attacks, while the rest was for investment in increased system reliability and for increasing utility costs.

The $12 million portion of the rate increase request will remain.

A final decision on the case is not expected before this summer, OG&E said.

OG&E said it would work with commission staff to determine the appropriate amount for security upgrades.

The commission regulates Oklahoma utilities.