Lower ONG bills

Saturday, March 3rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A drop in ONG prices, but at what cost? The Oklahoma Corporation Commission Friday lowered the price ONG can charge customers for natural gas.

KOTV's Donn Robertson some customers are still not happy. When natural gas prices skyrocketed recently, ONG was paying more for the gas than they were allowed to pass on to the consumer.

The company says it lost $72-million and wants customers to make up the loss. A car at the NAPA store in Jenks will help supply fuel for the shop's heat when the cars oil change is over. Jerry Hollingsworth who owns the shop put in a system which burns used oil to heat parts of the business. With gas prices climbing as high as they are, it turned out to be a smart move. "I assume I've saved about $2,800 in the month of January just having those burners. "He still uses natural gas to heat the customer areas. Like the rest of us his bills have skyrocketed from $195 in January of last year to $627 this year. "It's still tough to swallow." Some relief is on the way.

Natural gas prices have dropped, so the Oklahoma Corporation Commission cut the cost ONG can charge its customers. But, it's still more than what ONG pays for the gas. The company says it needs to make up a $72-million dollar loss. The commission said customers deserve a break, and so does ONG. Edwin Farrar, with the Corporation Commission says, "this is catastrophic to the gas industry if this kept up."

Hollingsworth says if he suffers a big loss in "his" business, he can't pass it on to the customer, they might not come back. Hollingsworth doesn't think natural gas customers should be entirely responsible for getting ONG back into the black. Hollingsworth says, "we all incur losses, they just have to run their belts a little tighter."

ONG says its been tightening its belt for years. There haven't been layoffs, but ONG is at an all time low in its staffing. Friday's rate cut by the Corporation Commission means the average ONG customer will see a $5-6 drop in this month's bill.