Oklahoma Utility Provider: Security for Facilities Will Be Costly

Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co. wants consumers to pay the bill for beefing up security to protect the utility from terrorist attack.

The state's largest electric utility has asked state regulators for permission to pass on nearly $5 million in annual costs for the security improvements.

The additional cost amounts to $4.48 a year, or 37 cents a month, for residential customers. That's a 0.5 percent increase in the electric bills of residential customers, OG&E said in papers filed with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

OG&E, which provides power to 720,000 customers, says it would take 18 to 24 months to complete the improvements.

Details of OG&E's plan have not been disclosed, but John E. Allen, a security expert, described the proposed improvements as appropriate and reasonable.

The plan ``will provide reasonable and prudent security to the public, customers and employees of OG&E,'' Allen said in testimony filed at the commission.

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, have forced electric utilities to consider a wider range of threats to the reliability of power generation and transmission, Allen said.

``The threat of further attacks has significantly altered the type and ranges of scenarios considered for maintaining a safe and secure operation,'' he said. ``OG&E is following the efforts of the Office of Homeland Security, Department of Energy and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.''

But Oklahoma Industrial Energy Consumers, an organization that represents the state's largest manufacturers, says the additional cost should be included in a general review of OG&E's rates.

Under that method, the added cost could be offset by the depreciation of OG&E assets or other savings, OIEC said in papers filed at the commission. OIEC described the proposal as ``objectionable piecemeal ratemaking.''

A commission hearing on OG&E's request is set Nov. 9.