FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 18, 2022
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Alliance for Electrical Restructuring (AERO) in Oklahoma today called on both the State Legislature and the Corporation Commission to pursue any and all options to lower electricity costs in the state of Oklahoma, which have risen dramatically since 2021.
Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that as of July 2022, Oklahoma’s electricity costs across all sectors (residential, commercial, industrial and transportation) were 11.34 cents per kilowatt hour, a 24 percent increase since July 2021. By comparison, the national average across all states for electricity price increases was just six percent.
Price increases in Oklahoma have been driven by rate hikes lobbied for by OG&E and PSO, the state’s monopoly utilities. OG&E, for instance, has successfully lobbied for $1.4 billion in rate hikes in response to Winter Storm Uri, $30 million in rate hikes for “cost of service” increases, and is now proposing a “fuel cost adjustment” hike of $424 million as well as another increase of $43 million in January 2023. If fully implemented, the average residential consumer will see an annual rate hike of approximately $181.68 per year.
AERO Executive Director Mike Boyd said the rate hikes show the current system is broken and is hurting Oklahoma families and businesses.
“OG&E and PSO are part of multi-billion-dollar enterprises reporting astounding profits,” said Boyd. “They don’t need ratepayer funded bailouts, but that is exactly what they have gotten repeatedly. Our current system, where a few companies are rewarded government-backed monopolies on electricity sales, is failing Oklahomans. Families and businesses are facing crippling rate hikes in the middle of a recession while these monopoly utilities and their shareholders rake in billions in cash.”
“Something has to change,” continued Boyd. “AERO’s solution is simple: inject choice and competition into the market so families and businesses can shop for more affordable plans. Ratepayers should not be forced to line the pockets of these monopoly utilities in Oklahoma when other states have shown there is a better way to promote affordable, reliable electricity.”
Mark Argenbright, director of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s Public Utility Division, recently told the Oklahoman he was "concerned that, if nothing is done, the future implications and layering of the increased fuel costs to consumers could result in significant future increases." The Corporation Commission will hold a public meeting on Nov. 3 to discuss OG&E's most recent round of requests for cost increases.
Boyd said it was a positive development to see a public official acknowledging that the current rate increases are unsustainable.
“Oklahoma families quite literally can’t afford to have the Corporation Commission rubber stamp every multi-million-dollar request for a ratepayer funded bailout,” said Boyd. “The time to scrutinize every claim and every figure presented by these utilities is now. The time for maximum transparency and accountability is now.”
For instance, Boyd said, Oklahoma’s utilities continue to tout Oklahoma as one of the most affordable states in the country for electricity.
“It’s just not true anymore,” said Boyd. “We were an inexpensive state. Now we’ve had billions of dollars in rate increases layered onto our base rate. When our utilities say we are still one of the cheapest states in the country, they are being disingenuous.”