OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Kevin Stitt, along with other state officials, provided an update Monday on the historic winter storms’ effects on Oklahomans’ upcoming utility bills, saying the state will do everything it can to help.
“We are going to do everything we can to help you and your families to get through this,” Stitt said at a news conference.
Stitt said he has two main goals; one is to help Oklahomans get financial assistance with utility bills, and the second one is to get to the bottom of the energy situation and what the state needs to do to make sure this never happens again.
Oklahoma Senate leader Greg Treat said he will form a select committee on the issue, and House Speaker Charles McCall said the utilities committee will hold public hearings.
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said his office is working closely with Oklahoma Corporation Commission to figure out ways to mitigate the impact of the utility bill phenomenon we are expecting to see. Hunter pleaded with utility companies to suspend automatic payments for 60 to 90 days to help avoid payments that don’t go through and also to avoid putting customers in a bad situation with their banks.
Hunter said his office will investigate whether the Emergency Price Stabilization Act has been violated.
Ken Wagner, Oklahoma’s Secretary of Energy and Environment, said he wants to remind people that some may see their bills increase because they've simply been using more energy during the storms. There is a separate issue about utilities passing along the increased costs they're paying. He said people who need to be very alert right now are those who get their gas from a non-regulated municipal provider. They may see extraordinary increases.
Mark Gower, Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, said during the news conference that they are working to build a case with FEMA and the White House that additional federal funding is needed to help people pay for repairs to winter storm damage.
Gower said people can report damage to their homes, businesses or agriculture online.
Stitt said he will be in Washington for the next two days to meet with the federal delegation and have other meetings.