November 9, 2021 Read More →

Oklahoma gas utility mulls ‘exit fee’ for customers switching to electric

Huffington Post:

Oklahoma’s biggest natural gas utility could soon charge customers who switch to electric stoves and heating systems an “exit fee” of nearly $1,400 to disconnect service, HuffPost has learned, setting a precedent that could help the industry lock millions of Americans into fossil fuel use for decades.

The proposal is part of a larger bid by Oklahoma Natural Gas to sell off debt it incurred when fuel prices skyrocketed during a historic cold snap last February. It is currently being negotiated before a judge at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. The provision, which would apply only to customers who terminate service specifically to go electric, could be approved as early as December and come into force no later than June.

The fee could more than double the cost of swapping a gas stove for a new electric appliance, forcing homeowners offloading their last gas appliance to not only purchase the new one but also to bid the utility farewell by paying out the remainder of their share of the company’s debt. The fee is also a flat rate for virtually all customers, so the cost does not reflect the amount of gas the household used during last winter’s deep freeze.

If greenlighted, the measure would likely become a model for gas-friendly regulators across the country, advocates say, providing a new tool to prevent consumer transitions from fossil fuels to zero-carbon alternatives. Texas and Kansas are already considering their own proposals, according to one source who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the plans.

[Alexander Kaufman]

More: Oklahoma Proposes Letting Gas Utility Charge $1,400 ‘Exit Fee’ To Go Electric

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