Summer could bring higher bills


Tuesday, May 20th 2008, 7:07 pm
By: News 9


By Amy Lester, NEWS 9

Keeping cool over the next few summer months could wind up costing a few more pennies.

The average Oklahoma City resident is paying $3.66 at the pump, according to AAA, and the cost of fuel for electric companies is also on the rise. If the gas prices continue to rise, utility companies say they could push off the cost onto their customers.

"What we're seeing is what some have termed an energy crisis," Oklahoma Corporation Commission spokesperson Matt Skinner said.

The corporation commission recently started receiving filings from utility companies for yearly fuel cost adjustments or FCAs. The charge covers the cost utility companies pay for natural gas or coal; the fuel they use to produce electricity.

"Under state law, they can pass on their fuel costs to the consumer, but at no profit to the utility," Skinner said.

OG&E is facing this very struggle. The energy company uses coal and natural gas to fuel its power plants and with the price of natural gas also rising, so are OG&E's operation costs.

"This year the costs have come up and we won't know for a few weeks, but we're doing some calculations right now," OG&E spokesperson Gil Broyles said. "We should know by early next month what the impact on customer bills will be. For the customer, we would expect to see an impact on their monthly bill. We'll try to keep that as low as we possibly can."

OG&E does not expect to the bills to increase as much as the Public Service Company of Oklahoma's $17.50.

The higher bills could go into effect in two months. However, there are plans available to keep costs steady. One is signging up for a time-of-use system, which gives customers a discount if they use less during peak hours.

For more information visit OG&E's Web site at www.oge.com.