OCC Drops Agreement With ONG
Wrangling over two Oklahoma Natural Gas Co. (ONG) rate cases and
unbundling of the ONG system continues in Oklahoma. Oklahoma
Corporation Commission Chairman Ed Apple last week voted against a
stipulated agreement between the commission and ONG. The agreement,
which was killed in a 2-to-1 vote, had previously been appealed by
Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson. The AG maintained he was
denied due process in negotiations between the commission and ONG.
Edmondson also alleged ex parte communications took place between
ONG and Commissioner Denise Bode.
Apple said he was particularly disturbed by Edmondson's appeal,
which could have clouded the issue for months. Commissioner Bob
Anthony also voted against the agreement; Bode voted for it.
In her dissenting opinion, Bode called the last minute change "a
real bottom-line loss to Oklahomans." Bode said "moving forward to
restructure the gas industry is a matter of profound importance to
The commission declared Edmondson's motion to stay the
stipulation pending appeal to be moot and denied it. A motion by
the AG to recuse was also denied. The commission further ordered
the ONG cases be remanded to administrative law judges June 23 to
determine a procedural schedule.
The proposed stipulated agreement worked out between commission
utility staff and Oneok Inc., the parent of ONG and Kansas Gas
Service Co. (KGS), was approved May 26 by a 2-1 vote of the
commission with Anthony the lone dissenting vote.
The agreement consolidated two ongoing rate cases and provided
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 maintained a larger rate reduction might be in
order. The agreement had set 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.
Two rate reviews of ONG remain in effect. One was instigated by
commission staff and the other by an ONG application. ONG's appeal
of the commission's unbundling order from last summer also remains
Joe Fisher, Houston
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