Administrative Law Judge Fines Oneok $48,000

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA CITY -- An administrative law judge found the parent company of Oklahoma Natural Gas in contempt Thursday for not turning over documents in a case involving gas costs and fined the company a total of $48,000.

Administrative law Judge Robert Goldfield handed down the ruling following a contentious hearing where officials of ONG's parent, Oneok, said the company had not surrendered the documents and had no plans to.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission ordered Oneok to turn over the records in April as part of its investigation into whether ONG's affiliates charged other customers less for gas last winter than ONG customers paid.

"We have not produced the information," said Eric King, attorney for Oneok Energy Marketing and Trading.

"You're telling me that you have not produced these and are not going to. That's contempt," Goldfield said. "It seems to me the case is over."

oldfield fined Oneok a total of $2,000 a day for each day that it does not comply with the commission's order, beginning May 8. The fine added up to $48,000 Thursday but will increase each day that the documents are not surrendered.

"The commission's staff has legally requested these documents," said commission spokesman Jim Palmer. "Oneok has stalled and has done everything they can possibly do to delay."

Don Sherry, manager of corporate communications for Oneok, said the company is weighing its legal options, which include a request for a rehearing before Goldfield or an appeal to the state Supreme Court. …