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OCC Resuming ONG Hearing Wednesday

OCC Resuming ONG Hearing Wednesday

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) Wednesday will resume a hearing on a negotiated settlement on rates, unbundling and competitive bidding between the commission and Oneok Inc. and its subsidiaries Oklahoma Natural Gas (ONG) and Kansas Gas Service (KGS). The hearing began Friday.

In the meantime, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson has accused OCC commissioners of having improper discussions with ONG and has asked each commissioner to recuse him/herself if such discussions indeed happened. None of the three commissioners agreed to do so. Larry Lago, an aide to Commissioner Bob Anthony, said the OCC's counsel advised commissioners meetings were not inappropriate because they took place in a legislative setting, not a judicial one in which they would be ex parte and not permitted.

The agreement consolidates two ongoing rate cases and provides for an interim rate reduction for Oklahoma customers of ONG and KGS of $5 million on an annual basis effective with the first billing cycle in September. A final order establishing permanent rates is expected next spring.

In addition to the rate reduction for Oklahoma customers and a timetable for the unbundling process, Oneok agreed to dismiss its Oklahoma Supreme Court appeal of the commission's unbundling orders and rules after orders in the consolidated rate case become final. The Oneok challenge to the commission order has been the hold-up delaying upstream unbundling.

Settlement terms call for new effective dates for ONG's competitive bidding for gas supplies and transmission service beginning Nov. 1, 1999 and November 1, 2000, respectively.

Also contained in the agreement are procedures and timetables for setting permanent rates and the identification and designation of Oneok assets for gas transmission, distribution, gathering and storage and the process as outlined under OCC rules for obtaining the deregulation of gathering and storage assets.

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