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Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. will report smart grid progress as part of rate settlement

Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. will provide state regulators with more information about its smart grid deployment as part of its recent rate case settlement.
BY JAY F. MARKS Published: July 13, 2012

Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. agreed to provide additional information about its smart grid program to state regulators as part of the settlement agreement that ended its rate case this week, but officials don't expect much new to come to light.

The company, which serves about 729,000 customers as Oklahoma's largest utility, already provides regular progress reports to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates state utilities.

The reporting requirement in the settlement agreement approved by regulators this week merely formalizes what OG&E already has been doing at the request of commission staff, said Brandy Wreath, acting director of the agency's public utility division.

AARP Oklahoma had pushed for the requirement during settlement talks.

Craig Davis, the consumer advocacy group's associate state director, said the July 2010 order that allowed OG&E to expand the smart grid program statewide did not include any specific reporting or tracking requirements, even though the company had promised a full accounting of the $366 million program and its benefits.

Davis said the new requirement will ensure OG&E customers receive all of the benefits they originally were promised.

Ken Grant, managing director of OG&E's smart grid program, said the company guaranteed it would save $22 million in operational costs over three years with the new technology, so it agreed to subtract that amount from its revenue from customers through next year.

“We are achieving those savings,” Grant said. “We are on track through 2012.”

Tracking true costs

OG&E has installed more than 660,000 smart meters in Oklahoma, leaving the company on pace to finish the program by the end of the year.

Grant said that information and more has been reported informally to the commission since OG&E's smart grid program began, but language in the recent rate case settlement makes it a requirement.

The settlement brings Oklahoma's reporting requirements in line with what the company agreed to share with the Arkansas Public Service Commission when the smart grid was expanded there.

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