GRDA, TPWA option will ease ratepayer burden from winter storm

·3 min read

Aug. 21—The Tahlequah Public Works Authority Board of Trustees, during an Aug. 20 meeting, approved invoices for construction projects and voted on a payment option for February's winter weather snowstorm that will give customers critical relief.

TPWA General Manager Mike Doublehead said the Grand River Dam Authority Board of Directors approved an updated power cost adjustment (PCA) rate schedule. GRDA's costs for the storm was $102,338,100, and Tahlequah's portion was calculated at $2,836,307.

Jerry Cook, manager of customer support services for GRDA, told the board the power provider had originally anticipated costs would be between $120 million and $130 million.

"The State of Oklahoma had $4.6 billion worth of impact within a very brief period of time — seven days on the emergency alert from [Southwest Power Pool]," said Cook. "Most of it was related to natural gas costs."

Three options were available under the Extraordinary Power Costs terms and conditions.

The Oklahoma Legislature passed Senate Bill 1049, a Securitization Act where the Oklahoma Development Finance Authority is selling bonds to provide cash for that $4.6 billion debt, Cook said.

"[For] our portion of that $102 million, we have the opportunity to send Senate Bill 1049's provision, the state's Securitization Act, to allow three options for our customers. The board has approved this plan, and we have until sometime between now and Oct. 15 for the board to declare [for] Tahlequah, and each of our cities, their plan," Cook said.

Option one is to pay the $2.8 million all at once; option two is a 12-month payment plan with no interest charges.

"The PCAx120 is an opportunity for you to stretch it over 10 years. We believe this at this point the bonds have not been sold, but we believe it will be somewhere close to the U.S. Treasury tenured bond," said Cook.

Vice Chair Mark Gish said TPWA could either make $236,000 monthly payments for 12 months with option two, or roughly pay $62,000 every month for 120 months for option three.

"It's a pretty clear choice of what the best alternative is, and then the question arises, how do we pass that on to our ratepayers?" Gish said.

Doublehead said the PCA would be a separate line item on each customer's bill, which would lessen the burden on ratepayers.

Doublehead said TPWA is trying to minimize the impact on residential customers, and Cook said other municipalities are only seeing a $2 increase to each monthly residential bill.

"I just hope our ratepayers do realize that they have not paid for this extraordinary event. I am amazed that people think they paid for it already, because they'll make the comment of, 'Well, I paid my electricity bill the next month,'" said Gish. "GRDA is just now realizing their costs, which they can pass that amount onto us, so we know what we're faced with."

Gish made the motion to accept the PCA-120 payment option, while Trustee Patty Skinner seconded.

The board gave its nod to an invoice to HUB Engineers for services for the Teehee Plant Rehabilitation, totaling $7,599.

Board members approved a disbursement request for reimbursement of expenses Teehee Water Treatment Plant completion contract, inspection services, and construction phase services that totaled $48,824.

A disbursement request of $586,745 for a completion contract for wastewater treatment plant construction, engineering, and testing was approved.

What's next

The next TPWA board meeting is on Sept. 17 at 9:05 a.m. in the Board Room at the Utilities Office, 710 W. Choctaw St.

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