P-S-O Customers See Rate Hike Tied To Natural Gas Prices


Wednesday, August 2nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


Public Service Company of Oklahoma customers are feeling the effects of high natural gas prices. P-S-O usually adjusts its bills twice a year. However, customers don't really notice, because the increase usually amounts to just a few cents. July's electric bills have reached most Tulsa mailboxes and customers have noticed a rise in their electric bill. "Mine came out to $132.28 cents," said P-S-O customer Kathy Button. Button says that’s more than she and her husband ever paid to power their home.

"This is a 30 percent increase over any electric bill that I've received for three years,” said P-S-O customer Brett Perona. “I've lived in this house for three years." These homeowners aren't the only ones writing bigger checks to PSO. The price of natural gas has utility companies across the nation raising rates to pay their own bills. Customers are taking notice. "I understand what they're saying, but it still doesn't seem right," said Frank Twist, PSO customer. Tulsa homeowner Annette Demaray said, "I don't think we'll change our usage any, but it would be nice if it would go back down. If the cost wasn’t so high in the winter time. I didn't realize the electrical bill was so tied to natural gas."

Many people don’t realize that high natural gas prices translate to high electric bills. P-S-O uses natural gas to heat the water which makes the steam to power the turbines that generate electricity.

P-S-O says they're feeling the heat, too. "We make absolutely sure that there is no return on fuel -- we make absolutely no profit at all,” said PSO spokesman Stan Whiteford. “So when we're passing along the price of increased fuel, it's important to know we're not getting anything back. We're just sharing with customers what it costs us to generate electricity."

Customers are just hoping everyone's costs goes down and soon. “P-S-O is in business to make money, so they have to pass the cost on to the client,” said Perona. “I'd do the same thing, but I'm still not happy with the bill. It's still to high."

P-S-O says the average person will pay an extra $8.17 cents a month for electric service. The reason for the high costs is the low supply of natural gas. Experts say the supply is just not keeping up with the demand right now. P-S-O says it will reevaluate electric rates again in October.