Oneok Wins Stay In OCC Contempt Order

In an ironic twist, the same Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) administrative law judge (ALJ) who had cited Oneok for contempt in May for refusing to turn over documents related to an OCC investigation last Wednesday granted the company's motion for a stay in the state attorney general's request that the company be cited for contempt for not turning over the same documents related to natural gas sales made last winter.

In May, ALJ Robert Goldfield cited Oneok and two of its subsidiaries, Oklahoma Energy Marketing and Trading and Oneok Gas Storage, for contempt for their refusal to provide documentation of their gas sales last winter . Oneok, the parent company of Oklahoma Natural Gas Co. (ONG), and its subsidiaries claim the information is proprietary and that the Commission has no legal right to have access to its unregulated gas sales transactions. However, Goldfield recommended to the Commission then that the companies be fined $2,000 per day retroactive to May 8 and lasting until they complied with the OCC order.

In hearings before the OCC in June, several witnesses testified that Oklahoma's record winter heating costs last season were caused by inadequate planning by ONG, and thus customers should get some of their money back (see NGI, July 2). The OCC had requested Oneok's and its subsidiaries' records last spring as part of its investigation.

Last week's ruling revolved around Oneok's contention that the issues involved in the Oklahoma attorney general's request were essentially the same as those involved in an earlier contempt order from the OCC, and Goldfield agreed. The first contempt order -- issued by Goldfield -- remains under appeal before the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The parties have until today (Sept. 10) to appeal the ALJ's finding to the OCC.

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