FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wes Carter, Press Secretary
Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus
OKC Reps. Cyndi Munson, Mickey Dollens, and Collin Walke today called for improved cooperation with Oklahoma Gas & Electric, a strategy moving forward, and a commitment to a new long-term investment in Oklahoma’s powerline infrastructure following the devastating ice storms two weeks ago.
The three Democratic representatives have spoken to numerous frustrated constituents, including many who still do not have power to their homes.
“As elected officials, it’s our job to ask tough questions and moral obligation to help constituents,” Dollens said. “The past two weeks have been emotionally, financially, and academically devastating.”
While most OKC residents have had their power restored, the representatives have heard from numerous constituents who still don’t have power, including Munson.
“As an OG&E customer who has been without electricity for 14 days, I have been living through what my constituents have,” Munson said. “The outage has created a crisis—adding to the current pandemic we are living through—emotionally, psychologically, and financially.
“I have been displaced from my home and know the pain of throwing out a fridge full of food – and after two weeks, many of my constituents and I still do not know when this will end. I have appreciated the information I have been able to obtain from OG&E about the process for repairs, but all OG&E customers deserve clear, accurate, detailed, transparent, and timely communication during these disasters.”
The representatives call for additional and consistent communication from OG&E, including specific details about remaining outages.
"We appreciate the hard work of OG&E and their staff and contractors, and we appreciate that OG&E is contending with a wide array of problems in each neighborhood, including having to navigate many issues at each home individually,” Walke said. “At some point, however, a line of communication must be opened up and answers and solutions must be provided. Two weeks without power is not simply a matter of convenience in our city, it is a literal necessity.
“We are taking that first step and offering to assist OG&E in addressing these problems immediately. Our constituents, OG&E's consumers, are in need, and we want to know how we can help now and into the future. It is not too soon to begin a dialogue about how to prevent mass outages in the future – this crisis was not unexpected nor was it a one-time incident.”
Beyond better communication, the lawmakers want OG&E to work with state and local government entities as well as local nonprofits to provide additional support to constituents and to create a plan that provides both short-term solutions like relief funding for food and housing, as well as long-term solutions like buried power lines.
“The issue in front of us now is how does OG&E plan to prepare and prevent these delays and outages in the future,” Dollens said. “The Legislature and Corporation Commission must study OG&E’s infrastructure and disaster mitigation over the past decade and compare that to other utility companies who service a similar population – and we must work together to prevent rate hikes to address the shortcomings.
“There is no reason we cannot take the lessons from this disaster and build an infrastructure that exceeds expectations,” Walke said. “We stand willing to do the work."