OKC Church Says February Utility Bills Skyrocketed Amidst Winter Storm


Monday, April 19th 2021, 5:20 pm
By: Hunter McKee


OKLAHOMA CITY -

Oklahomans are starting to see the astronomical utility bills from February's winter storm that some had feared. A southwest Oklahoma City church is now on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars.

Southern Hills Baptist Church said their average monthly energy bill is between $1,000 and $1,200. However, in February, it was more than $44,000.

Earlier this year, Oklahoma was hit with record low temperatures. As many turned up the heat, it resulted in high energy usage across the state.

"With the storm, you knew your utility bills were going to be higher," said Clint Hayes with Southern Hills Baptist Church. "To see that significant of an increase is just, you're just not ready for that."

Hayes said though there was a limited amount of people inside the church during that time, they still had to heat the building.

"In a facility of this size, if you don't continue to heat your building, you're going to have pipes bust, you're going to have issues with your building," Hayes said.

State Rep. Mickey Dollens said Oklahomans are just beginning to see the repercussions of these energy bills to the tune of $4.5 billion.

"Small businesses and contingents, and even churches, we're all making ends meat at the end of the month," said Dollens. "A lot of that is a result of such a hard year in 2020."

Dollens and others are working on House Bill 1049 and 1050 to help manage these large costs.

"Through bonds through the state, we're going to help out energy companies by spreading those costs over 8 months instead of all at once," Dollens said.

Dollens said he hopes these bills can also help the state prepare for future storms, so a spike like this doesn't happen again.

"Prepare for more weather disasters and unfortunate events like this because I don't think they're going away any time soon," said Dollens.

OG&E is working to spread the cost of recovery efforts from February's historic storms over the next 10 years.