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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Who regulates public utility companies?
- What public utilities are rate regulated by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission?
- What is the Office of the Attorney General's role in representing customers interested in regulated utility matters?
- How does my utility decide what to charge me?
- How can I lower my utility bills?
- Are there ways I can avoid drastic and unpredictable changes in my utility bills from month to month?
- How can I avoid service interruptions or service disconnections?
- Are there any assistance programs to help low-income customers?
- Who do I contact if I have a question or complaint about my utility services?
- Where can I find additional information on utility issues and regulation in Oklahoma?
Who regulates public utility companies?
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission is responsible for licensing and regulating electric power utilities, natural gas utilities, drinking water utilities and telecommunications utilities. State statute exempts most cooperatives and all municipally owned utilities from rate regulation by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
All rates, charges and terms of service must first be approved by a majority of the three state-wide elected Corporation Commissioners before they can be charged or put into effect. For more information on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission or Corporation Commissioners, visit the Corporation Commission’s website.
What public utilities are rate regulated by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission?
Most investor-owned, for-profit natural gas, electric and water utilities are rate regulated by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. State statute exempts most cooperative and all municipally owned utilities from rate regulation by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. A few cooperatives have, pursuant to state statute, elected to be rate regulated by the Commission.
If you believe your utility is operating without approval by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, please contact the Utility Regulation Unit. Contact information is provided on this page.
What is the Office of the Attorney General's role in representing customers interested in regulated utility matters?
Under state law, the Office of the Attorney General represents the interests of Oklahoma's utility customers in energy, telecommunications and water utility rate related matters in state and federal courts, as well as in regulatory proceedings primarily before the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
The Utility Regulation Unit within the Office of the Attorney General carries out this advocacy effort. For more information on the Utility Regulation Unit, visit the unit's page.
How does my utility decide what to charge me?
Most companies doing business in Oklahoma can simply set their own prices to sell their products and services. However, regulated utilities like OG&E, PSO and ONG are different. The prices regulated utilities charge to provide customers with electricity or natural gas are decided through an open, public process called a rate case. When a pricing adjustment is needed, the utility company files a request with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the body that regulates public utilities. The request is considered in a rate case, which offers a public forum to examine and discuss the request. Rate cases seek to balance the needs of customers and the utility with public policy goals. Reasonable costs for utility service are defined, and the amount of money the utility company will collect through rates to provide that service in a safe and reliable manner is determined.
In contrast, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission does not regulate the rates that telecommunications providers charge their customers for services. The Commission has limited regulatory oversight of telecommunications providers in Oklahoma, allowing it to oversee quality of service issues, the Oklahoma Universal Service Fund and applications for new telecommunications carriers that wish to offer certain services within the State.
How can I lower my utility bills?
Here are some tips that might help you save on your utility bills:
- Home energy audits pinpoint what parts of your home's heating and cooling system and building structure are inefficient. They also help you determine what upgrades to your home will help you save the most energy and have the fastest payback period. Your utility provider may provide this service for free or at a charge.
- You may save on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 percent for 8 hours. You can do this automatically by installing an automatic setback or programmable thermostat. The market has a number of "smart" thermostats that have become a popular way to try saving on heating and cooling costs.
- Installing energy efficient lighting may be one of the fastest ways to cut your energy bills. An average household dedicates 5 percent of its energy budget to lighting. Using new lighting technologies within the 5 most used light fixtures in your home may reduce electric bills by $75 a year according to the Department of Energy. Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs), light emitting diodes (LEDs) and outdoor solar lighting may all contribute to lower energy bills.
- EnergyStar appliances may cut energy bills by 20 percent or more depending on which appliances you purchase.
- Incentives, rebates or tax credits may be available from your utility when purchasing energy-efficient appliances or lighting, or when making other energy efficient upgrades to your home. Visit your utility provider's website or contact them via phone to inquire about these offerings.
- If not replacing appliances, you may maximize energy savings by using current appliances more efficiently. Run the dishwasher only when it is fully loaded and turn the heated drying selection off. Clean the coils on the back of the refrigerator and make sure the door seals are airtight.
- Turn off your computer or use the “sleep” mode when not in use. Reduce “phantom” energy loads by unplugging home office appliances or using a power strip and using the switch on the power strip to cut all power to the appliance. Unplug battery and mobile device chargers when the batteries are fully charged or the chargers are not in use.
Tips to help lower consumer water bills:
- Make sure your home is free of water leaks. Many homes have hidden water leaks. Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when water is not being used. If the dials are moving, or the meter does not have the same reading both times, there may be a leak.
- Repair dripping faucets. Ten percent of homes have leaks that waste ninety gallons or more a day. Larger leaks can waste hundreds of gallons of water.
- Retrofit all household faucets by installing aerators with flow restrictors to slow the flow of water. Some utilities offer these aerators for free or have a rebate for this type of conservation measure. To learn more, see links below and contact your local utility company.
- Don't pour water down the drain when there may be another use for it, such as watering plants.
- When purchasing a new water softener, look for one fitted with a hardness sensor that automatically triggers regeneration, thus reducing water and salt usage.
- When purchasing a new washing machine, look for one that can be adjusted for size of the load, and that offers several wash and rinse cycles. This will allow you to optimize its use, thus saving water and energy.
- If your clothes washer cannot be adjusted for the size of the load, then operate it only when fully loaded.
- Check your swimming pool and your hot tub for leaks.
- When not in use, cover your swimming pool or hot tub to reduce evaporation. If left uncovered, a residential swimming pool will lose about a 1/4 of an inch of water a day, or 2 inches per week, due to evaporation, leading to anywhere between 10,000-20,000 gallons of water loss a year. Additionally, using a cover decreases heating costs by 50-70 percent.
- If you have a well, check to see if the pump cycles on and off even when water is not being used. If it does, you may have a leak.
Are there ways I can avoid drastic and unpredictable changes in my utility bills from month to month?
Level or flat billing options allow you to spread the cost of utility bills throughout the year. Instead of high bills during summer and winter months, that usage will be “leveled” so that bills are consistent throughout the year. Be careful to read your plan's details. During some months, bills will be higher than standard billing. Visit your utility provider's website or contact them via phone to inquire about the billing options they offer.
How can I avoid service interruptions or service disconnections?
Here is some information regarding interruptions and disconnections to utility service:
- If a resident of your household has a serious medical condition and disconnecting utility service would risk his or her health, you may be able to temporarily avoid cut-off by submitting a physician’s certificate.
- Electric and gas utilities may not suspend residential service in certain extreme weather conditions.
- If you are elderly or handicapped, registering with the utility may restrict the utility’s ability to cut off your service, including during extreme weather.
- Contact your utility provider and discuss a payment plan. However, if you sign up for a payment plan, you must be able to follow it or you may incur additional charges. See your utility provider's website or contact them via phone to inquire about their offerings.
Are there any assistance programs to help low-income customers?
Yes, but you must contact your utility to inquire about its specific assistance programs, if any.
Who do I contact if I have a question or complaint about my utility services?
For questions about your services, first contact your utility service provider. If your questions relate to the rules with which your service provider must comply, contact the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. If you wish to file a complaint about your services or provider, you may do so by contacting the Consumer Services Division of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. You can reach the Oklahoma Corporation Commission at:
Oklahoma Corporation Commission
ATTN: Consumer Services Division
P.O. Box 52000
Oklahoma City, OK 73152-2000
Where can I find additional information on utility issues and regulation in Oklahoma?
Public Utility Complaints
For questions about your services, first contact your utility service provider.
If you wish to file a complaint about your services or provider, you may do so by contacting the Consumer Services Division within the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
You can reach the Oklahoma Corporation Commission at:
Oklahoma Corporation Commission
ATTN: Consumer Services Division
P.O. Box 52000
Oklahoma City, OK 73152-2000
Utility Regulation Unit
Oklahoma Attorney General's Office
313 NE 21st Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
To learn more about the Utility Regulation Unit, visit the unit's page.