Since record-low temperatures Oklahomans experienced last month, state energy providers have requested deferrals to allow the “extraordinary costs” of the winter storm to be spread out over longer periods of time for customers.
Several prominent energy providers have requested the Oklahoma Corporation Commission allow the deferral, including Oklahoma Gas & Electric, Oklahoma Natural Gas, the Public Safety Company of Oklahoma, Arkansas Oklahoma Gas and others.
OG&E estimated the cost of additional power purchases to be $1 billion, which they said was necessary because of a “profound crisis” in natural gas supply during the winter storm, according to OCC documents.
“To add perspective, this amount exceeds our total fuel costs for all of last year,” OG&E spokesperson David Kimmel said in a statement.
Oklahoma Natural Gas estimated its additional costs at $1.5 billion.
“I don’t think anyone has ever seen fuel costs skyrocket on a spot market the way they did during this polar vortex. Not just in Oklahoma but throughout the entire region,” said Matt Skinner, spokesperson for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
The additional costs faced by energy providers will be passed onto customers. Companies are requesting more time to do so in order to avoid bloated energy bills.
In a statement, ONG said the request for a deferral is the first it has made in more than 25 years.
Each company has not determined the period of time in which it would disperse the added costs. OG&E proposed to the commission it spread the payments out over the next 10 years.
“This alternative approach will, if approved by the commission, result in a fuel cost-related increase of less than 10% for an average residential customer’s bill,” Kimmel said.
This week the commission approved the requests from ONG and AOG, according to Skinner. The others are pending.
“As long as the application is pending, everything is on hold,” he said.
Energy companies have said bills will continue to reflect usage, which could increase in cold weather.