Gov. Stitt In DC To Work On Getting Extra Aid After Historic Winter Storms


Wednesday, February 24th 2021, 5:21 pm
By: Alex Cameron


WASHINGTON, D.C. -

Gov. Kevin Stitt was set to return Wednesday night to Oklahoma after two days of meetings in the nation's capital, aimed at securing additional aid in the wake of this month's major winter storm.

President Joe Biden approved an initial round of emergency assistance for Oklahoma last week, but Stitt thinks the state is going to need more.

"It was just kind of a storm of the century," Stitt said Wednesday in an interview near the Capitol.

He wanted to be sure, he said, that in a place where there are so many competing interests, no one forgets how bad it was or how high utility bills are likely to go.

"And we're hearing some big, big numbers," Stitt explained, "that electricity bills could go up 20%, and so I'm just trying to get on the president's radar, and I met with the entire federal delegation to get on their radar."

If the issues related to the winter weather weren't on the delegation's radar already, they are now.

"Our office is working directly," said Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, "trying to get zero interest loans to a lot of our energy producers."

Lankford said he's looking at ways to keep utilities from passing on extra costs they had to shoulder during the cold spell -- such as interest from loans they had to take out -- to consumers.

Lankford said he's also putting together a hearing on how the Southwest Power Pool, of which Oklahoma is a member, was managed and where it failed.

"When you talk about natural gas not flowing and not working during this time period," Lankford said. "Natural gas flows and works all the time in North Dakota and it gets a lot colder than what we had for a lot longer than what we had."

Both Lankford and Stitt said the event reinforces the wisdom of having diverse energy sources -- fossil fuels and renewables. But the governor said it is troubling that the grid seemed unprepared, and that natural gas production and delivery, in particular, wasn't winterized as well as it is in other cold weather states.

"That's something we need to look at here in Oklahoma," Stitt said, "because gas is something we rely on to generate electricity in Oklahoma, much more than some of the other sources."