Oklahoma Leaders Pledge to Keep Utility Costs Affordable

(AP) — Oklahoma’s governor and other top officials vowed to make sure residents don’t get stuck having to pay skyrocketing utility bills.

winter storm that plunged Oklahoma into record freezing temperatures last week resulted in soaring costs for natural gas, which powers much of the state’s electricity production.

Attorney General Mike Hunter, whose office represents ratepayers before the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, urged utilities to suspend customers’ automatic payments while his office looks into the issue. He added that the state’s Emergency Price Stabilization Act prohibits companies from increasing prices more than 10% after the declaration of an emergency.

Stitt’s energy secretary, Kenneth Wagner, said most Oklahoma consumers won’t immediately see huge increases in their energy bills based on natural gas prices. But he did caution that customers in some municipalities that buy power or natural gas from smaller, unregulated companies may see marked increases.

“The vast majority of Oklahomans will not see a dramatic increase in their energy bills as a result of these rising gas costs,” Wagner said. 

House Speaker Charles McCall and Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat both said they were assembling legislative panels to look into the issue. McCall said some of a revenue surplus this year also could be used to help consumers. 

“Together we’ll get through this,” said McCall, R-Atoka. “We’ll find a way to lower and minimize the burden to the people of Oklahoma.”

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