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Oklahoma AG sues energy suppliers over natural gas prices during winter storm

Gentner Drummond became Oklahoma's Attorney General in 2023.
Abi Ruth Martin
/
The Oklahoma Legislative Service Bureau
Gentner Drummond became Oklahoma's Attorney General in 2023.

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond filed lawsuits against natural gas suppliers for skyrocketing gas prices during Winter Storm Uri in 2021.

Drummond filed the suits against ET Gathering and Processing, formerly Enable entities, and Symmetry Energy Solutions LLC yesterday in Osage County. ET Gathering and Processing is the successor by merger to Enable Midstream Partners and several Enable subsidiaries including those mentioned in the suit.

The lawsuits are filed on behalf of the Grand River Dam Authority and are the first suits Drummond has filed in the wake of his investigation of soaring natural gas prices during the 2021 storm that swept the state.

The storm increased demand for natural gas and the suppliers used what were described as deceitful tactics to reduce natural gas supply and increase prices, according to the lawsuit. Drummond said his office will pursue more litigation against other companies that he said engaged in market manipulation.

“I believe the level of fraud perpetrated on Oklahomans during Winter Storm Uri is both staggering and unconscionable,” Drummond said in a statement. “While many companies conducted themselves above board during that trying time, our analysis indicates that some bad actors reaped billions of dollars in ill-gotten gains.”

A Symmetry spokesperson said in an email Symmetry Energy Solutions is reviewing the lawsuit filed by the State of Oklahoma and denied the allegations.

“Symmetry, like many others, suffered the adverse effects of Winter Storm Uri and adamantly denies the unfounded allegations in the lawsuit, which it will vigorously defend,” the spokesperson said in the email.

ET Gathering and Processing echoed the statements made by Symmetry and "strongly," disputed Drummond's legal filing.

"We continue to be thankful to our employees for their heroic efforts in many cases that went into keeping our Partnership operating during such an unprecedented event – even as many of them faced personal issues at the same time," a company spokesperson wrote in an email. "Many worked around the clock to ensure that systems were maximized to the fullest extent possible to provide critical gas supply."

After the announcement, Corporation Commissioner Kim David released a statement saying she asked Drummond to investigate the possible wrongdoing of pipeline operators and natural gas marketers during the winter storm.

“While these lawsuits were filed on behalf of the Grand River Dam Authority, I am hopeful that the Attorney General will pursue additional litigation against other companies so that all determined overpayments may be returned to Oklahoma ratepayers,” David said in a statement.

Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony echoed David.

“Hopefully the beneficiaries of his next actions will include the residential retail customers of the state’s largest monopoly public utilities – customers victimized not only by “market manipulation” during the storm but by an unnecessary ratepayer-backed bond financing scheme fraught with hiring irregularities, cost discrepancies, apparent overpayments, and a billion-dollar cost overrun,” Anthony said in a statement


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Updated: April 11, 2024 at 9:42 AM CDT
This story was updated on April 11 at 9:42 a.m., to add comments from ET Gathering and Processing.
Anna Pope is a reporter covering agriculture and rural issues at KOSU as a corps member with Report for America.
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