Legislation filed in the Oklahoma Senate would help manage the financial burden facing ratepayers due to extreme price spikes in utility and energy bills in the wake of the February winter storm.
Through the process of securitization, Senate Bill 1049 and Senate Bill 1050 both would allow ratepayers to lower their monthly costs associated with the weather event and lengthen the period of time the increased costs could be paid out, said Sen. James Leewright, R-Bristow, chair of the Senate’s Business, Labor and Commerce Committee, and chair of the Senate Select Committee created to study this issue.
Leewright said it’s estimated that Oklahoma utility ratepayers are obligated for approximately $4.5 billion in increased energy costs associated with the February winter storm. Without action, ratepayers would face dramatic increases in their energy bills, and those bills would be due immediately in large sums.
“Doing nothing to help ratepayers manage that debt load is not an option. If we do nothing, families and seniors on fixed incomes could be faced with choosing between paying their February energy bill or paying for food and medicine,” Leewright said. “If we do nothing, small businesses could be forced to make layoffs or cutbacks to pay their energy bills. Securitization is the best path forward to help families manage the extreme costs related to the storm, and help small businesses manage the impact as they continue to recover from the pandemic.”