Oklahoma regulators dismiss telecom openness request

Regulators have decided not to clarify the Oklahoma Corporation Commission's policy on keeping the annual reports from telecommunications companies shielded from the public.
by Jay F. Marks Modified: July 18, 2013 at 8:56 pm •  Published: July 19, 2013

In a split decision, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission on Thursday opted not to clarify its position on what information filed by state telecommunications companies is shielded from the public.

The former director of the agency's public utility division had asked the commissioners for guidance on the issue in 2011, but staffers recommended dismissing the request, based on a March vote indicating commissioners would consider confidentiality on a case-by-case basis.

“We have decided that you decided,” analyst Larry Lago said.

Commissioners voted 2-1 to dismiss the request, with Commissioner Bob Anthony dissenting.

Anthony argued the Oklahoma Open Records Act, which gives commissioners some discretion, does not include anything about “proprietary” or “competitively sensitive” information in filings by telecom companies.

“There's very little that telephone companies do with this agency that involves trade secrets,” he said.

Anthony said he agreed with Andrew Tevington, the commission's former general counsel who had said a 2004 order restricting access to telecom companies' annual reports was too restrictive.

Anthony said there is no reason to keep information about public utilities like telephone companies away from the public, expressing concern that the commission is leaning toward secret subsidies and surcharges.

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by Jay F. Marks
Energy Reporter
Jay F. Marks has been covering Oklahoma news since graduating from Oklahoma State University in 1996. He worked in Sulphur and Enid before joining The Oklahoman in 2005. Marks has been covering the energy industry since 2009.
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