By Daisy Grant
The Journal Record
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Corporation Commission unanimously voted Thursday to approve a settlement in the rate case brought by Public Service Co. of Oklahoma, increasing the bill for a residential customer consuming 1,100 kilowatt-hours a month by $2.38 a month.
PSO originally requested an increase of $88 million, or $7 a month for an average residential customer. The settlement reduced the rate increase to $46 million for recovering costs and system investments since 2017 and recovery of investments related to the utility’s grid modernization plan, which calls for improvements in transmission and distribution infrastructure, the utility said.
However, the company agreed to pay back excess accumulated deferred income tax over five years instead of 10, bringing the rate impact closer to $30 million, said Brandy Wreath, director of OCC’s Public Utility Division.
Additionally, the settlement also creates a distribution reliability and safety rider and a system for the company to use it to address projects related to reliability and safety, with review and approval by the commission. The process will reduce the regulatory lag associated with recovering costs from such projects, Wreath said.
In a statement, Commissioner Bob Anthony said the process benefits the company and its customers.
“The agreement sets up a process in which PSO will be able to address, in timely manner, reliability projects that otherwise may have to wait for a lengthy approval process, while still ensuring any costs are given a thorough and proper review to ensure customers get the full benefit for their money,” Anthony said.
PSO Vice President of External Affairs Tiffini Jackson said the settlement addressed the company’s major regulatory concerns and is “a good deal for everyone.”
“We were very encouraged by the willingness to come to the table and stay at the table until we could get through these important issues,” Jackson said. “We appreciate that. We feel like this is a good way for us to address those issues and still mitigate the impact on customer bills.”
Included in the company’s original September filing was the implementation of performance-based rates, which was not included in the settlement.
However, issues similar to those addressed by the proposed performance-based rates will be addressed through the process created with the distribution reliability and safety rider and more timely recovery of PSO’s Southwest Power Pool-related transmission investments, the company said in a statement.
Peggy Simmons, PSO president and chief operating officer, said the settlement was a collaborative effort between groups with diverse interests.
“The agreement approved today will create a path forward for us to continue providing safe, secure, reliable and affordable service,” Simmons said in the statement.