TODAY: Oklahoma Gas & Electric Environmental Compliance Hearing Concludes
Commission to Decide on Utility’s Plan That Passes Costs Onto Ratepayers
The month-long hearing over Oklahoma Gas & Electric Company’s environmental compliance, Mustang plant modernization and rate increase proposal concluded today. OG&E’s plan requests approval to recover $1.1 billion from ratepayers -- a request that would increase customer bills by 15 to 20 percent over the next five years. Half of these costs are to upgrade an old coal-fired power plant to comply with federal air protections. Testimony from diverse parties during the hearing highlighted OG&E’s failure to consider more cost-effective options, like investing in Oklahoma wind power. Following the hearing Administrative Law Judge Ben Jackson will offer recommendations to the Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners. The commission will then make a final decision on the proposal.
The plan relies on the installation of costly updates to an aging coal power plant, and it passes those costs onto ratepayers. Specifically, part of the proposal would spend $500 million -- collected through customers’ monthly electric bills -- to retrofit OG&E’s old Sooner coal plant located near Red Rock, Okla. If approved, the plan would result in the largest rate hike in Oklahoma history. The Sierra Club’s testimony shows that the company’s plan risks saddling Oklahoma for decades to come with enormous costs to keep the plant operating and ignores vast savings OG&E could secure for its customers if it instead invested in Oklahoma’s proven low-cost wind.
“OG&E coal plants already spend hundreds of millions of hard-earned Oklahoma dollars every year to buy coal from mines in Wyoming. Investing in lower-cost options like Oklahoma-based wind power would modernize electricity generation, lower monthly bills and keep our money closer to home all while creating local jobs,” said Whitney Pearson, organizing representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “The commission should reject this plan and send OG&E back to the drawing board.”
Campaign Name: Beyond Coal
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