Full Senate approves measures to help manage utility bill price spikes

Mike Seals - April 15, 2021 10:38 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY – The February winter storm that gripped Oklahoma led to huge spikes in energy costs for Oklahoma ratepayers. The Oklahoma Senate on Thursday advanced measures aimed at helping ratepayers manage the significant financial burden stemming from those increased energy costs.

Senate Bill 1049 and Senate Bill 1050 create a framework for securitization of the approximately $4.5 billion in increased energy costs due to the February winter storm, said Sen. James Leewright, R-Bristow and chairman of the Senate Business, Commerce and Tourism Committee. Securitization 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.

Leewright has led the Senate effort on securitization and presented the measures on the Senate floor for the primary author of the bills, Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah.

“These bills protect consumers,” said Thompson, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “This is a bold move by the Legislature for the people of Oklahoma.”

Without legislative action, Leewright said ratepayers who normally see an average bill of $100 likely would see their first month’s bill for the February storm costs reach approximately $1,900. He said ratepayers’ second bill with February storm costs could be another $1,500. February storm costs would remain on ratepayers’ bills in smaller, declining amounts for the next several months.

“Oklahoma ratepayers face dramatic and immediate increases in their utility and energy bills due to the February winter storm. Securitization is the best option available to provide relief for families and small businesses in the form of lower monthly payments over an extended period of time. I appreciate my colleagues in the Senate for their consideration and support of these important measures. I look forward to the Oklahoma House taking up these measures and sending them quickly to the governor’s desk to be signed into law,” Leewright said.

The measures are pending in the Oklahoma House and if approved there, would be sent to the governor’s desk for consideration.

For more information, contact Sen. James Leewright at 405-521-5528 or email [email protected]

 

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