Judge Recommends Approval of Passing Security Costs along to Customers at Oklahoma Utility

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- An administrative law judge has recommended approval of plans by Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. to charge customers for security improvements.

Judge Jacki Miller's recommendation, made Tuesday, goes to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which will decide whether the utility can recover about $19 million to pay for fencing, internal and external access controls, physical security of the power plants and cyber-security.

Under the plan, an average residential utility customer would pay an additional 37 cents a month.

"Security on our system is of upmost importance,'' OG&E spokesman Brian Alford said. ``We believe each of the parties understands the importance of these upgrades and is supportive of the plan we are bringing forward and that we're able to do this in a low-cost fashion.''

The industrial customers also strongly supported the plan.

``We think this agreement is a good compromise,'' said Thomas Schroedter, attorney for the industrial group. ``It provides that OG&E will incur some expenditures to enhance its infrastructure as it relates to security.''

The utility originally asked for $40 million to pay for a five-step security upgrade plan. Through negotiations with its industrial customers and Corporation Commission staff, however, the sides agreed on the $19 million plan.

No groups opposed the settlement in court filings, and no one spoke against the measure at Tuesday's hearing.

Alford said OG&E is not surprised by the broad support of the security plan.

``We believe each of the parties in this proceeding understand the importance of security on the system,'' he said. ``We all know and understand the importance of electricity in our society today and how critical it is to business and to our everyday lifestyle.''