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Kansas AG sues energy company also active in Oklahoma for winter storm market manipulation

Aaron Manning
Wikimedia Commons

Attorney General Kris Kobach of Kansas has filed suit against Macquarie Energy, a middleman for natural gas companies. According to the Kansas City Star, Kobach accuses Macquarie of market manipulation during February 2021’s winter storm, resulting in at least $50 million of ill-gotten gains for the company.

Macquarie was also one of the largest sellers to Oklahoma utilities during Winter Storm Uri. The company sold Oklahoma Gas & Electric, Public Service Company of Oklahoma, and Oklahoma Natural Gas more than $149 million in fuel in February 2021. All three utilities increased costs to consumers due to winter storm fees.

The news comes as the Oklahoma Corporation Commission considers hiring an outside consultant to review winter storm costs. On Tuesday, Corporation Commissioner Todd Hiett, who previously resisted calls for reviews, filed a proposal for a consultant to look at selected winter storm costs from PSO, ONG, and OG&E.

“There is a lot of confusion. The public and consumers deserve to have reassurance that what they are paying is fair, just, and reasonable,” said Hiett.

Fellow Commissioner Bob Anthony said Hiett’s proposal does not go nearly far enough because it doesn’t allow the proposed consultant to have full review powers or look at costs that were securitized.

“This proposal that was handed out – and I hope it’s made public so the public can understand what the intent and hidden agenda is – this so-called consultant or advisor is going be handcuffed or have his hands tied behind his back. It’s part of a cover-up. It restricts and limits. We need to open up at a full review if we think there’s something to be done here.”

In a Thursday filingon Kobach’s case partially entitled “Now Do You Believe Me?,” Anthony again urged the OCC to give full powers to an investigator, writing, “If Kansas can do it, so can we. The people of Oklahoma are already paying through the nose; they deserve to know the truth about these high bills, and maybe, just maybe, get some of it back.”

Before joining Public Radio Tulsa, Elizabeth Caldwell was a freelance reporter and a teacher. She holds a master's from Hollins University. Her audio work has appeared at KCRW, CBC's The World This Weekend, and The Missouri Review. She is a south Florida native.