Rate Matters and Regulation
Except as set forth below, the circumstances set forth in Note 13 to OG&E's Financial Statements included in OG&E's 2015 Form 10-K appropriately represent, in all material respects, the current status of OG&E's regulatory matters.
Completed Regulatory Matters
FERC Order No. 1000, Final Rule on Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation
On July 21, 2011, the FERC issued Order No. 1000, which revised the FERC's existing regulations governing the process for planning enhancements and expansions of the electric transmission grid along with the corresponding process for allocating the costs of such expansions. Order No. 1000 requires individual regions to determine whether a previously-approved project is subject to reevaluation and is therefore governed by the new rule.
Order No. 1000 directs public utility transmission providers to remove from the FERC-jurisdictional tariff and agreement provisions that establish any Federal "right of first refusal" for the incumbent transmission owner (such as OG&E) regarding transmission facilities selected in a regional transmission planning process, subject to certain limitations. However, Order No. 1000 is not intended to affect the right of an incumbent transmission owner (such as OG&E) to build, own and recover costs for upgrades to its own transmission facilities or to alter an incumbent transmission owner's use and control of existing rights of way. Order No. 1000 also clarifies that incumbent transmission owners may rely on regional transmission facilities to meet their reliability needs or service obligations. The SPP's pre-Order No. 1000 tariff included a "right of first refusal" for incumbent transmission owners and this provision has played a role in OG&E being selected by the SPP to build previous transmission projects in Oklahoma. On May 29, 2013, the Governor of Oklahoma signed House Bill 1932 into law which establishes a "right of first refusal" for Oklahoma incumbent transmission owners, including OG&E, to build new transmission projects with voltages under 300kV that interconnect to those incumbent owners' existing facilities.
The SPP has submitted compliance filings implementing Order No. 1000's requirements. In response, the FERC issued an order on the SPP filings that required the SPP to remove certain "right of first refusal" language from the SPP Tariff and the SPP Membership Agreement. On December 15, 2014, OG&E filed an appeal in the Court challenging the FERC's order requiring the removal of the "right of first refusal" language from the SPP Membership Agreement.
On July 1, 2016, the Court upheld the FERC's decision requiring removal of the rights of first refusal for incumbent transmission providers from the SPP Membership Agreement. The Court determined that the FERC had reasonably found the rights of first refusal in the SPP Membership Agreement to be anticompetitive.
OG&E does not believe the Court’s ruling will have any impact on existing transmission projects for which OG&E has already received a notice to construct from the SPP. OG&E intends to actively participate in the SPP planning process for competitive transmission projects that we believe apply to transmission voltage levels projects greater than 300kV.
Fuel Adjustment Clause Review for Calendar Year 2014
On July 28, 2015, the OCC staff filed an application to review OG&E's fuel adjustment clause for calendar year 2014, including the prudence of OG&E's electric generation, purchased power and fuel procurement costs. On May 26, 2016, the OCC issued a final order, finding that for the calendar year 2014 OG&E's electric generation, purchased power and fuel procurement processes and costs were prudent.
Oklahoma Demand Program Rider Review - SmartHours Program
In July 2012, OG&E filed an application with the OCC to recover certain costs associated with Demand Programs through the Demand Program Rider, including the lost revenues associated with the SmartHours program. The SmartHours program is designed to incentivize participating customers to reduce on-peak usage or shift usage to off-peak hours during the months of May through October, by offering lower rates to those customers in the off-peak hours of those months. Lost revenues are created by the difference in the standard rates and the lower incentivized rates. Non-SmartHours program customers benefit from the reduction of on-peak usage by SmartHours customers by the reduction of more costly on-peak generation and the delay in adding new on-peak generation.
In December 2012, the OCC issued an order approving the recovery of costs associated with the Demand Programs, including the lost revenues associated with the SmartHours program, subject to the PUD Staff's review.
In March 2014, the PUD Staff began their review of the Demand Program costs, including the lost revenues associated with the SmartHours program. In November 2014, OG&E believed that it had reached an agreement with the PUD Staff on the methodology to be used to calculate lost revenues associated with the SmartHours program and the amount of lost revenue for 2013, which totaled $10.1 million. The agreement also included utilizing the same methodology for calculating lost revenues for 2014 and beyond. In January 2015, OG&E implemented rates that began recovering the 2013 lost revenues (approximately $10.0 million annually).
In April 2015, the PUD Staff filed an application, seeking an order from the OCC, for determining the proper methodology for calculating lost revenues pursuant to OG&E’s Demand Program Rider, primarily affecting the SmartHours program lost revenues. In the application, the PUD Staff recommended the OCC approve the PUD Staff's methodology for calculating lost revenues associated with the SmartHours program, which differed from the methodology that OG&E believes it agreed upon and which would result in recovery of significantly less lost revenue for 2013, 2014 and 2015 than OG&E had recorded.
On March 28, 2016, the ALJ issued her recommendation on the PUD Staff's application. She found, among other things, that OG&E and the PUD Staff had not reached an agreement on all aspects of the calculation of lost revenues, that OG&E’s methodology for calculating lost revenues was not consistent with the provisions of OG&E’s tariff, and that the PUD Staff’s methodology for calculating lost revenues was proper. The ALJ recommended that the OCC order OG&E to adjust its calculation of SmartHours lost revenue for 2013 through 2015 consistent with the PUD Staff’s methodology, but that such adjustment should only be applied on a prospective basis following the issuance of an order by the OCC.
On August 9, 2016, OG&E entered into a settlement agreement with the PUD Staff to resolve the recoverable amount of lost revenues associated with the SmartHours program. The settlement provides for recovery of $10.1 million per year for 2013, 2014 and 2015, for a total of $30.3 million. OG&E had recorded $36.6 million of lost revenues for 2013, 2014 and 2015. On August 16, 2016, the OCC issued an order adopting the settlement agreement. Accordingly, OG&E reduced lost revenues and the Oklahoma Demand Program Rider regulatory asset by $6.3 million.
Mustang Modernization Plan-Arkansas
On April 13, 2016, OG&E filed an application at the APSC seeking authority to construct combustion turbines at its existing Mustang generating facility. Arkansas law requires a public utility to seek approval from the APSC to construct a power-generating facility located outside the boundaries of the state of Arkansas. The application did not seek any cost recovery for the capital expenditures in the application, as cost recovery will be determined in future proceedings. In July 2016, OG&E filed a motion to dismiss the APSC Mustang proceeding and in August, the APSC approved the dismissal. OG&E intends to seek cost recovery of the Mustang combustion turbines at a later date after the Mustang facility is placed in service.
Pending Regulatory Matters
Set forth below is a list of various proceedings pending before state or federal regulatory agencies. Unless stated otherwise, OG&E cannot predict when the regulatory agency will act or what action the regulatory agency will take. OG&E's financial results are dependent in part on timely and adequate decisions by the regulatory agencies that set OG&E's rates.
Environmental Compliance Plan
On August 6, 2014, OG&E filed an application with the OCC for approval of its plan to comply with the EPA’s MATS and Regional Haze Rule FIP while serving the best long-term interests of customers in light of future environmental uncertainties. The application sought approval of the ECP and for a recovery mechanism for the associated costs. The ECP includes installing dry scrubbers at Sooner Units 1 and 2 and the conversion of Muskogee Units 4 and 5 to natural gas. The application also asked the OCC to predetermine the prudence of its Mustang Modernization Plan, which calls for replacing OG&E's soon-to-be retired Mustang steam turbines in late 2017 with 400 MWs of new, efficient combustion turbines at the Mustang site in 2018 and 2019 and approval for a recovery mechanism for the associated costs. The OCC hearing on OG&E's application before an ALJ began on March 3, 2015, approximately seven months after OG&E filed its application, and concluded on April 8, 2015. Multiple parties advocating a variety of positions intervened in the proceeding.
On June 8, 2015, the ALJ issued his report on OG&E's application. While the ALJ in his report agreed that the installation of dry scrubbers at Sooner Units 1 and 2 and the conversion of Muskogee Units 4 and 5 to natural gas pursuant to OG&E’s ECP is the best approach, the ALJ's report included several recommendations. OG&E filed exceptions to the ALJ's report and on July 21, 2015, Commissioner Bob Anthony issued his deliberation statement that was consistent with many parts of the ALJ's report, including the ALJ’s support of OG&E’s ECP, the ALJ’s recommendation to pre-approve certain estimated costs of the environmental recovery plan, and the ALJ’s recommendation to defer all other cost recovery issues until the next general rate case.
On December 2, 2015, OG&E received an order from the OCC denying its plan to comply with the environmental mandates of the Federal Clean Air Act, Regional Haze Rule and MATS. The OCC also denied OG&E's request for pre-approval of its Mustang Modernization Plan, revised depreciation rates for both the retirement of the Mustang units and the replacement combustion turbines and pre-approval of early retirement and replacement of generating units at its Mustang site, including cost recovery through a rider.
On December 11, 2015, OG&E filed a motion requesting modification of the OCC order for the purposes of approving only the ECP. OG&E did not seek modification to any other provisions of the OCC order, including cost recovery. OG&E also agreed that it would not implement a rider for recovery of the costs of the ECP until and unless authorized by the OCC in a subsequent proceeding. On December 23, 2015, the OCC rejected, by a two to one vote, a proposal by Commissioner Dana Murphy to grant OG&E's December 11, 2015 motion.
On February 12, 2016, OG&E filed an application requesting the OCC to issue an order approving its decision to install dry scrubbers at the Sooner facility on or before May 2, 2016. OG&E's application did not seek approval of the costs of the dry scrubber project. Instead, the reasonableness of the costs would be considered after the project is completed and OG&E seeks recovery in its rates. On April 28, 2016, the OCC approved the dry scrubber project and OG&E is proceeding with the project. Two parties to the proceeding have appealed the OCC's decision to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. After the OCC provides a certified record to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the parties will file briefs by the end of 2016 or the first quarter of 2017.
OG&E anticipates the total cost of dry scrubbers will be $547.5 million. As of September 30, 2016, OG&E had invested $138.6 million of construction work in progress on the dry scrubbers. OG&E anticipates the combustion turbines for the Mustang Modernization Plan will be $424.9 million. As of September 30, 2016, OG&E has invested $133.6 million on the Mustang Modernization Plan.
Integrated Resource Plans
In August 2015, OG&E initiated the process to update its IRP pursuant to the OCC rules. After engaging interested stakeholders in August and September, OG&E finalized the 2015 IRP and submitted it to the OCC on October 1, 2015. The 2015 IRP updated certain assumptions contained in the IRP submitted in 2014, but did not make any material changes to the ECP and other parts of the action plan contained in the IRP submitted in 2014.
Oklahoma Rate Case Filing
As previously reported in OG&E's 2015 Form 10-K, on December 18, 2015, OG&E filed a general rate case with the OCC requesting a rate increase of $92.5 million and a 10.25 percent return on equity based on a common equity percentage of 53 percent. The rate case was based on a June 30, 2015 test year and included recovery of $1.6 billion of electric infrastructure additions since its last general rate case in Oklahoma, the impact of the expiration of OG&E's wholesale contracts, increased operating costs such as vegetation management and increased recovery of depreciation and plant dismantlement of approximately $8.0 million. Each 0.25 percent change in the requested return on equity affects the requested rate increase by approximately $9.0 million.
In late March 2016, the PUD Staff and other intervenors filed testimony in the case. The PUD Staff recommended a $6.1 million annual rate increase based on a return on equity of 9.25 percent and a common equity percentage of 53 percent. Included in the PUD Staff's recommendation is a reduction of $33.0 million to OG&E’s requested increase for depreciation and plant dismantlement.
The staff of the Oklahoma Attorney General made a recommendation to reduce rates $10.8 million based on a return on equity of 9.25 percent and a common equity percentage of 50 percent, as well as a recommendation to reduce rates $13.7 million based on a return on equity of 8.90 percent and a common equity percentage of 53 percent. Included in the Attorney General's recommendation is a reduction of $20.9 million to OG&E’s requested increase for depreciation and plant dismantlement.
The Oklahoma Industrial Electric Consumers recommended a $47.9 million annual rate decrease based on a return on equity of 9.00 percent and a common equity percentage of 53 percent. Included in the Oklahoma Industrial Electric Consumers' recommendation is a reduction of $52.5 million to OG&E’s requested increase for depreciation and plant dismantlement.
The hearings in this matter began on May 3, 2016. While there is no statutory deadline for the ALJ to make a recommendation or for the commission to issue a final order, OG&E is allowed to implement increased rates subject to refund 180 days after the filing of its application on December 18, 2015. On July 1, 2016, OG&E implemented an annual interim rate increase of $69.5 million while simultaneously reducing fuel costs billed to customers. The interim rates are subject to refund of any amount recovered in excess of the rates ultimately approved by the OCC in the rate case.
As of September 30, 2016, OG&E has recorded $23.6 million of revenues from the interim rate increase and has reserved $21.0 million of that revenue.
Arkansas Rate Case Filing
On August 25, 2016, OG&E filed a general rate case with the APSC. The rate filing requested a $16.5 million rate increase based on a 10.25 percent return on equity. The rate increase was based on a June 30, 2016 test year and included a recovery of over $3.0 billion of electric infrastructure additions since the last Arkansas general rate case in 2011. The increase also reflects increases in operation and maintenance expenses, including vegetation management, and increased recovery of depreciation and dismantlement costs. OG&E has a hearing scheduled for the rate case in the second quarter of 2017.
Fuel Adjustment Clause Review for Calendar Year 2015
On September 8, 2016, the OCC staff filed an application to review OG&E’s fuel adjustment clause for calendar year 2015, including the prudence of OG&E’s electric generation, purchased power and fuel procurement costs. OG&E has verbally agreed to a March 9, 2017 hearing date.
The above information was disclosed in a filing to the SEC. To see the filing, click here.
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