OK Retail Unbundling Postponed Until Mid-2001
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) has delayed the start
date for retail gas unbundling in the state from Oct. 1, 1999 to
June 1, 2001. Retail unbundling affects gas utilities serving more
than 25,000 customers. The commission order delaying unbundling
also allows groups wanting to propose competitive purchase programs
at earlier dates to submit their proposals for commission
OCC Chairman Ed Apple said he agrees with hearing testimony that
significant tax and municipal franchise issues should be addressed
prior to restructuring the gas service industry. "I think these
issues could take two years or more to resolve. We would be
premature in setting this year (1999) as a target date for starting
Commissioner Bob Anthony said forced delays in implementing gas
industry restructuring at the wholesale level caused the change in
starting time for retail competition.
The commission revised its gas rules in 1998 to begin separating
integrated gas systems into individual services at the wholesale
level. Oklahoma Natural Gas Co. (ONG) appealed several issues to
the Oklahoma Supreme Court, staying the effectiveness of the order.
The Supreme Court has not ruled on the appeal.
"Oklahoma Natural Gas has caused this delay. We are also
disappointed that the Supreme Court did not dismiss the ONG appeal
of an interim order which would have benefited consumers during
last year's heating season," Anthony said.
"I want consumers to have a choice about who provides their
natural gas as soon as possible, but wholesale competition must
come first. More importantly, consumers need to have time to
prepare for the coming change. This revised schedule takes that
into account," said Commissioner Denise Bode.
Anthony said most of the savings will occur from upstream
restructuring and competitive bidding for gas procurement. "These
savings have to be in place before they can be passed through to
the retail customers."
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