Anxiety among Oklahomans continues to grow over what their next natural gas bill could look like.
Oklahoma Natural Gas (ONG) warned its customers to expect a higher than normal gas bill. It comes after record cold and snow have pushed infrastructure to a breaking point.
A close eye is being kept on the Sanders family thermostat in Edmond. Warnings of high natural gas bills is calling for a second look.
“We’ve been blessed that our power has stayed on,” Steve Sanders said. “I am concerned about it, not too fearful about it. It is what it is going to be.”
Bottled water must do for now, thanks to frozen pipes outside leaving the Sanders without water. Indoor heat is the only thing preventing disaster and pipes bursting in their attic.
“I would like to think that the power companies will maybe have a little bit of mercy on everybody and maybe place a cap over what normally monthly bills might be,” Sanders said.
ONG declined an interview with News 9 to answer questions about what bills may look like or what the utility is currently paying for natural gas to distribute to customers.
During a Thursday press conference, ONG stressed residents to conserve in order to keep bills under control.
“It’s important that customers know that our company does not set the price that we pay for gas,” ONG operations vice president Kent Shortridge said to Oklahoma City officials via Zoom. “We purchase the gas from suppliers and deliver it to customers home.”
According to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the rates on your next bill will be the same as the month prior.
It’s your usage during this cold snap that may take you back this next billing cycle.
“State law is pretty simple, it says that a utility can recover their fuel cost at no profit,” Oklahoma Corporation Commission spokesperson Matt Skinner said. “So, the commission’s job initially is to look at the charges and make sure that the utility is not making a profit on it.”
Only the Oklahoma Corporation Commission can review and approve rate hikes. Neither have been requested by utility companies but that is expected as soon as the emergency is over.
Meanwhile, the Sanders family do nothing but wait and pray that their bill isn’t as bad as anticipated.
“Just as they were not ready for this storm, neither were we,” Sanders said. “This will really hurt people financially, and so, maybe they can at least meet people halfway.”
This all applies to regulated utilities only. The corporation commission does not have jurisdiction over municipalities who operate their own gas and electric services.