If you are a PSO customer, get ready for higher electricity bills.

PSO, or the Public Service Company of Oklahoma, sent a letter to customers saying that the average rate will jump to an average of $3.57. 

That rate hike started Monday.

It is the Oklahoma Corporation Commission's job to oversee utility companies. At first, PSO asked the Commission to collect $294 million from customers. 

If that request had been approved, your increase would have been much higher. However, they settled for a $50 million increase.

FOX23 Investigative Reporter Janna Clark spoke with Joseph Price, a PSO customer. He shared his recent bills with Janna, showing the jump in price.

"They've gone up, now we're sitting on an average $220 to $240 a month," said Price.

In December 2020, Price paid PSO $146. His latest bill in May jumped to $221. Price used about the same amount of electricity both months.

That is a 51% jump in price. 

"And the rate spike hasn't even hit yet," said Price. "The utility companies own a monopoly, without that free market system in place… you're only going to be stuck with one utility provider. Paying the fee that they say you're going to pay, and there isn't anything you can do about it. You either pay the bill or you sit in the dark."

Janna asked her Facebook followers about their electric bills. They shared the same experiences that Price reported.

She took those concerns to PSO.

"The new rates allow PSO to continue making investments needed to provide customers with affordable, reliable power," said Wayne Greene with PSO. "In the future, that will allow us to harden the electrical grid, meaning power outages will be less frequent."

In PSO's letter to customers, they claim that the rate hike will save them money in the future. Greene says this will be through investing in clean energy. 

Greene says the rate hike also helps reimburse PSO for a windfarm they purchased. 

"Free fuel, free power. Wind power doesn't require fuel, it doesn't require natural gas," he said.

The letter also said, "if finalized." The rate hike has not been approved by the Commission. If the rate is not approved, you will receive a refund.

Janna asked why PSO decided to pass along that cost before getting the final approval.

"This is a process, a fairly normal process of how this system works," said Greene.

He said PSO did the same thing the last time they raised rates. Your bill jumped $5.07 in 2022, $2.38 in 2019, and $6.80 in 2018. 

On top of all of those hikes, last year's winter storm will be tacked onto your bill as well. 

AEP, PSO's parent company, saw their annual net income jump from $1.06 billion in 2020 to $1.29 billion in 2022. 

"The investor-owned utilities are the muscle of the grid, they're why we have a resilient grid that can serve our customers with affordable power on a daily basis," said Greene.

PSO says even with the rate hikes, it's still some of the most affordable electricity in the country. PSO's services cost 1 percent less than the Oklahoma average, and 18 percent less than the national average.

"You're getting a more powerful system that protects the public," said Greene. "This is an investment in economic growth for Oklahoma. And it does all that while keeping our customers cost concerns right in front of our mind."

Price doesn't agree.

"It's just continuously going up, going up, going up," said Price. "I mean, at what point is enough, enough?" 

Another rate hike is coming in 2025. This hike will pay for solar and wind farms.

According to PSO, in 2025, to pay for wind and solar farms, the rate goes up again $1.95 for about 6 months, then it goes down $2.59 in early 2026. The net decrease is $0.64.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has released a statement:

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission told FOX23 the vast majority of the increase is because of a sharp rise in natural gas prices, not rates. The OCC said almost all “baseload” generation in Oklahoma is fueled by natural gas. “Baseload” generation is generation that can be counted on 24/7 – unlike wind or solar.  The market PSO and other utilities have to turn to in order to buy natural gas was for the most part deregulated by Congress years ago. What regulation there is falls under the Federal authority, not the states.

Under Oklahoma law, the utility can pass on its fuel costs to the customer, but at no profit. The OCC audits fuel costs from the utility to ensure no profit is made and that the contracts for purchase meet other legal requirements. Barring any problem in those areas, the pass-through of fuel costs must be allowed. The OCC has no pricing jurisdiction over the entities that sell fuel to the utilities.

More News