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Corporation Commission delays AEP-PSO hearing on environmental compliance
 
Rod Walton, Tulsa World
2013-03-28

 Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners decided Thursday to put off hearings planned next month on AEP-PSO’s environmental compliance plan which could raise rates by 11 percent or more in three years.

American Electric Power-Public Service Co. of Oklahoma wanted to go forward with the planned April 23 hearing on its settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Commission staff and intervenor Oklahoma Industrial Energy Consumers, which opposes the EPA agreement, asked for the delay because state and federal agencies were still reviewing the plan.

“Consumers will benefit by a stay,” OIEC Executive Director Tom Schroedter said in his testimony to commissioners Thursday. “You will be making sure if you stay this case you will have all the facts before you.”

AEP-PSO, the state’s second largest utility, informed the state regulators of its federal compliance deal in September. The utility will shut down two coal-fired generation units in Oologah by 2026 and install other emission controls to meet EPA rules on regional haze and other air toxins.

The Corporation Commission would be reviewing the plan during its hearings, but could rule later on proposed rate changes stemming from the compliance actions. AEP-PSO estimated a rate hike needed to recoup about $350 million in costs.

An administrative law judge previously denied the stay request. The utility wanted to go forward with the April hearings, arguing that it was already planning on equipment orders and engineering related to the implementation.

“All of the information needed to go forward with the hearing already has been filed,” AEP-PSO spokesman Stan Whiteford said. “There’s a ton of pre-filed testimony, there’s a ton of information, so we don’t see any reason for it to be delayed.”

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality and EPA are conducting parallel processes that involve public comments periods. The state DEQ has a May 20 hearing date on the proposed plan.

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