OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Billing changes proposed in a rate case filed by Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. could double the standard residential customer charge and lower winter electricity prices.
The $92.5 million case goes before an administrative law judge beginning Tuesday at a hearing at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, The Oklahoman reported. Testimony could last several weeks.
If fully implemented, OG&E’s plan could hike residential bills by $7.22 per month. OG&E says lower natural gas prices already passed along to customers mean an increase of about 47 cents per month on the bills of typical residential customers.
The utility wants to double the monthly customer service charge and put in place a separate demand charge that would better capture a customer’s peak demand costs on the grid. Those charges would be paired with lower electricity prices. The changes are OG&E’s first in billing structure in almost two decades.
“What we’re really trying to do is recover our fixed costs through fixed charges in the fairest way,” said OG&E spokeswoman Kathleen O’Shea.
In prefiled testimony, OG&E witnesses said moving to a three-part bill that captures fixed, demand and energy charges is a better way to manage the changes in technology now available to residential customers. Currently, most residential bills are split into a monthly customer charge and a variable energy charge that depends on electricity consumption.
OG&E’s proposed changes in billing structure have drawn criticism from several parties in the case, including Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, AARP Oklahoma, the commission’s public utility division, the Oklahoma Sustainability Network (OSN) and The Alliance for Solar Choice.
Sean Voskuhl, AARP Oklahoma’s director, said OG&E’s demand charge, based on the maximum use of electricity over a month, could amount to $20 to $30 extra per month for the typical customer.
“No state in the nation has allowed an electric utility to impose mandatory demand charges on residential customers — and for good reason — and we don’t want Oklahoma to be the first,” Voskuhl said.
The rate increase is designed to recover investments made by OG&E since its last rate increase in 2012. OG&E is Oklahoma’s largest electric utility with more than 800,000 customers in Oklahoma and western Arkansas.