AARP members from across the state have sent the Oklahoma Corporation Commission a strong message – instead of a more than $73 million rate increase, Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OG&E) customers should pay lower rates for their electric bills.
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More than 1,100 Oklahomans signed a petition urging the commission to reject OG&E’s rate increase request and instead order a rate decrease. Those petitions, along with the personal stories of how a rate increase would affect older Oklahomans, were delivered to Corporation Commission members by AARP Oklahoma Executive Council member Barney Allen during a public hearing Jan. 5.
Backed by members of the AARP Utility Watchdog Team, Allen gave public comments during the rate case telling commissioners older Oklahomans can’t afford a rate increase.
OG&E has asked for a rate hike – its second rate increase request in three years – that, if enacted, would equate to a monthly increase of $6.60 for the average residential customer. More than 70,000 small business customers would receive an average two percent rate increase.
“Oklahomans simply should not have to pay higher electric rates when utility companies are making more than enough money to operate,” said Allen. “A rate increase would particularly hurt older Oklahomans many of who already struggle to pay their utility bills.”
According to recent surveys commissioned by AARP, nearly half of Oklahomans 50+ said they had difficulty paying their monthly utility bills and 43% said their electric bill has gone up in the past 12 months, he said.
AARP State Director Sean Voskuhl says the association, which advocates on utility issues on behalf of 50+ Oklahomans, supports audit findings by Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office, as well as the Corporation Commission’s Public Utility Division.
“Both the Attorney General’s office and the Corporation Commission’s Public Utility Division have concluded OG&E has adequate revenues to operate and both support a decrease in current rates, as well as rejecting OG&E’s request for 11% return on equity. Based on these facts, customers should receive a significant rate reduction, not a rate increase,” Voskuhl said.
A decision in the rate case is expected in February.
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