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Oklahoma leaders vow to keep utility costs from skyrocketing

Oklahoma leaders vow to keep utility costs from skyrocketing

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and other state leaders say they are taking steps to make sure consumers aren't stuck with skyrocketing utility bills

Winter Storm Utility Bills

FILE - In this Feb. 11, 2021 file photo, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks during a news conference in Oklahoma City. Gov. Stitt, and other state leaders say they are taking steps to make sure Oklahoma consumers aren't stuck with skyrocketing utility bills.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma's governor and other top officials vowed Monday to make sure residents don't get stuck having to pay skyrocketing utility bills.

A winter storm that plunged Oklahoma into record freezing temperatures last week resulted in soaring costs for natural gas, which powers much of the state's electricity production.

Attorney General Mike Hunter, whose office represents ratepayers before the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, urged utilities to suspend customers' automatic payments while his office looks into the issue. He added that the state's Emergency Price Stabilization Act prohibits companies from increasing prices more than 10% after the declaration of an emergency.

Stitt's energy secretary, Kenneth Wagner, said most Oklahoma consumers won't immediately see huge increases in their energy bills based on natural gas prices. But he did caution that customers in some municipalities that buy power or natural gas from smaller, unregulated companies may see marked increases.

“The vast majority of Oklahomans will not see a dramatic increase in their energy bills as a result of these rising gas costs," Wagner said.

House Speaker Charles McCall and Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat both said they were assembling legislative panels to look into the issue. McCall said some of a revenue surplus this year also could be used to help consumers.

“Together we’ll get through this," said McCall, R-Atoka. “We’ll find a way to lower and minimize the burden to the people of Oklahoma."

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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