• Sun. Aug 7th, 2022

Oklahoma Corporation commission approves recovery of Centerpoint fuel costs related to 2021 winter storm

ByChad J. Johnson

Feb 14, 2022

Posted on February 14, 2022 by Chris Galford

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CenterPoint Energy was allowed to recoup losses on natural gas costs incurred during a February 2021 winter storm that hit Oklahoma, but Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) regulators said no charges. could not be added to the customer who eventually terminated natural gas service.

The proposed termination charges would have punished CenterPoint customers for terminating their natural gas service in favor of an alternate fuel source. The decision was made following a comprehensive audit which determined that Centerpoint would not make a profit on recoverable fuel costs and that other requirements were met. Even if bills increase, cost recovery will be spread over a longer period of time, rather than billed all at once.

“Although the law and the record, in this case, support the provisions of the order to reduce the monthly fees that CenterPoint customers will pay due to the storm, we have not been persuaded to impose a termination,” OCC President Dana Murphy said.

Securitization will further spread the costs – up to 15 years, if necessary. This will eventually bring the average residential customer’s bills down to around $4.36 per month.

“That means the monthly impact on taxpayers will be far less than it otherwise would have been,” Murphy said. “Natural gas costs due are estimated to have cost an average CenterPoint residential customer $538.07 if billed all at once, and $44.61 if billed over 12 months.”

In February of last year, the winter storm brought sub-zero temperatures that sent demand for electricity and heating fuels skyrocketing in 14 states. Heating units worked overtime to keep temperatures stable. Even in Oklahoma, the nation’s fourth-largest state for natural gas production according to the OCC, temperatures were so low they froze equipment, crippling natural resource gas production and transportation and limiting supply.

The result was an unprecedented increase in natural gas prices, Murphy said.

“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Oklahoma Attorney General are investigating what happened to the market, and if anything is found that could reduce costs to ratepayers, it will be instituted,” Murphy said. “Today’s decision also directs the company to credit customers with any proceeds, government grants, or other sources of funding CenterPoint receives for the costs of the February 2021 winter weather event.”