Local electric bills are likely to rise as the result of a significant pending rate hike by the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority, according to Pawhuska City Manager Paul McAlexander.
Last week, McAlexander informed city council members that "a fairly large increase" is scheduled to take effect with the first billing next year. He said he had been told that the new rate would be at least 3 percent more, and possibly 6 percent or higher.
"This is not good news," said McAlexander, adding that the city’s rate has been raised several times in recent years without the added costs being passed along to local customers.
"Those (rate increases) were fairly small," the municipal official said. "I just don’t think the city will be able to absorb this one like we have done in the past."
McAlexander said the council will probably need to address the electric-rate issue in its upcoming budget meetings. The new OMPA rate is expected to go into effect in February for January billings, he said.
"It’s going to be there," the city manager said. "We’re just not sure how bad it will be."
OMPA was created by the Oklahoma Legislature in 1981 "with the purpose of providing adequate, reliable and economic sources of electric power and energy to Oklahoma municipalities and public trusts operating municipal electric systems," according to the authority’s mission statement.
Currently, nearly 40 state municipalities have sales contracts with the OMPA, which supplies power that is generated by wind, hydro, natural gas, coal and other sources.
Pawhuska is one of a half dozen member communities that owns its own generating facility. Other municipal self-producers include Ponca City, Fairview, Kingfisher, Laverne and Mangum. Copan and Hominy also are OMPA members.