Customers of two largest electric utilities to pay higher bills this month

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

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Customers of Oklahoma's two largest electric utilities will pay the companies' increased cost of generating electricity this month, and perhaps in the coming months, officials say.

Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co.'s average customer uses 1,000 kilowatts of electricity each month. That person will pay about $4 to $5, or about 6.5 percent, over his or hers January bill, OG&E spokesman Brian Alford said Friday.

The total charge for electricity on the average OG&E bill will increase from $70.80 in January to $75.43, Alford said.

American Electric Power's Public Service Co. of Oklahoma will send out February bills that are 12.5 percent higher for its average customer using 976 kilowatts, communications manager Andrea Chancellor said.

The increase for the average PSO customer will be $7.14, making the February total bill $69.12 compared with a January bill of $61.97, Chancellor said.

The cost of using natural gas to generate 30 percent of OG&E's electricity and 60 percent of PSO's electricity are to blame for the higher bills, officials say.

Both companies filed documents with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission showing the increased fuel cost to be passed on to customers in the fuel adjustment clause.

``It's important to remember that PSO does not make any money on fuel,'' said Alan Decker, PSO's director of regulatory services. ``We are recovering only the cost of the fuel needed to generate electricity used by our customers and no more.''

Decker said the gas market is unpredictable ``and our customers need to be aware that a volatile energy market will have an impact on electricity bills.

``The picture may not dramatically improve for electricity customers anytime soon,'' he said. About 70 percent of OG&E's electricity is generated by coal, and the rest is generated by gas-fired plants, he said.

``The rising cost of natural gas has necessitated the need for us to adjust our fuel cost adjustment,'' Alford said.

The fuel portion of an OG&E bill is adjusted monthly, he said.

Chancellor said more than 60 percent of AEP/PSO's electricity is generated using gas as a boiler fuel.