"Customers saddled with paying 600 times the usual price for energy as regulators are accused of being too close to the industry they monitor".
"When Neil Crittenden heard that an extreme winter storm was about to hit Oklahoma last winter, he did what officials advised him to do and kept his heat on and water running so that his pipes wouldn’t freeze. The 40-year-old Oklahoma City resident even used hair dryers to keep them thawed.
What Crittenden didn’t know at the time was that the energy he used was going to cost him significantly. As winter storm Uri swept across the south central US last February, utilities that weren’t prepared scrambled. The storm caused blackouts in several states and resulted in the deaths of at least 223 people.
Oklahoma’s gas supply was in dire straits, with demand surging and the cold freezing critical equipment. To keep the heat on, the state’s biggest gas company, Oklahoma Natural Gas, made a last-minute decision: it purchased fuel from the wildly expensive spot market at nearly 600 times the usual price.
Now, nearly a year later, officials say residents like Crittenden have to foot the entire $1.37bn bill. The state’s utility regulator, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, is expected to approve the plan later this month."