Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Corporation Commission Denies OG&E's $1.1B Preapproval Request

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Corporation Commission Denies OG&E's $1.1B Preapproval Request

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma Corporation Commission denied Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co.'s $1.14 billion request to preapprove costs for air pollution compliance. The utility did not present enough evidence for the proposal, which could have raised monthly utility rates by up to 19 percent within five years.

OG&E may request recovery of those costs in its next rate case, which is expected to be filed soon.

The company must reduce air pollution from coal-fired power plants to meet the federal Clean Air Act. A 2011 Oklahoma law allows utilities to request preapproval of money for uncompleted projects related to federal environmental laws. However, OG&E's request was controversial because it included an unrelated $414 million project to update its Mustang Power Plant in western Oklahoma City.

Chairman Bob Anthony and Commissioner Todd Hiett voted in favor of the final order Hiett wrote, which denied the $700 million request to install air pollution scrubbers at two coal-fired power plants and to convert two power plants to natural gas.

"The basis of my decision was not that this was a good plan or a bad plan," Hiett said during a regular meeting Wednesday. "There was not enough information provided whether the plan was a good plan or a bad plan."

Hiett said that, according to his interpretation of the 2011 law, the OCC had to approve all of OG&E's request or none of it.

Commissioner Dana Murphy disagreed. She voted against the order, writing in her dissent that enough evidence exists to support the company's air pollution reduction plan. However, the agency could approve less than what the utility requested, and then hold the company accountable for expenditures to ensure the project meets projected goals.

"I also believe, and all parties appeared to agree, that the commission has the authority to order a conditional, or partial, approval of the company's plan to make capital expenditures for facilities and equipment, and this is what I proposed," Murphy wrote. …

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