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OK Attorney General Challenges OCC-Oneok Deal

OK Attorney General Challenges OCC-Oneok Deal

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson is appealing the Oklahoma Corporation Commission's (OCC) preliminary approval of a stipulation agreement between the OCC and Oneok (parent of Oklahoma Natural Gas). The agreement consolidates two ongoing rate cases and provides for an interim rate reduction for Oklahoma customers of ONG and Kansas Gas Service of $5 million per year beginning in September. The attorney general maintains a larger rate reduction may be in order.

Edmondson filed his appeal last Monday in Oklahoma Supreme Court and says he was denied due process and that approval of the agreement was ambiguous and not supported by sufficient evidence. He also said the commission lacks jurisdiction in the matter.

Edmondson has accused OCC Commissioner Denise Bode of ex parte communications with ONG. However, Bode and the other two commissioners maintain meetings with ONG were not inappropriate because they took place in a legislative context, not a judicial one (see NGI May 31).

The stipulation agreement Edmondson is contesting sets a procedural schedule for hearings, the topic of one of them being allocation of Oneok assets among distribution, transmission, storage, and gas gathering for the purpose of unbundling. Hearings are scheduled for June 23 through 25, and Edmondson maintains that does not allow enough time for his staff to review financial information and prepare testimony. The OCC has filed a motion to dismiss the attorney general's challenge on procedural grounds on the basis the OCC order is not a final order.

Joe Fisher, Houston

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