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Two state lawmakers push for more answers on power restoration in Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Two state lawmakers are working to find out how power restoration is prioritized and what can be done to prevent lengthy power outages again.

Tens of thousands of Oklahomans are currently without power still after last week’s ice storm.

“There are places across the state that feel forgotten and it’s just a really very stressful time for this to happen,” said State Rep. Mickey Dollens (D) HD-93.

Many of his constituents, like tens of thousands of other Oklahomans, are going on 10 days or more without power.

“And the whole thing has just been devastating emotionally, financially and academically for a lot of students who are doing school virtually,” said Dollens. 

He’s pressed OG&E for answers on where crews are and requesting service logs for his district.

“It was received not the best. I was told that they’ll work on it but it’s not guaranteed,” Dollens said.

Fellow state representative Collin Walke, who represents District 87, is joining Dollens in a push for more transparency and preparation – namely burying power lines.

“I do think it’s going to be expensive but that’s what public works projects and infrastructure is all about,” said Walke.

After the devastating 2007 ice storm, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission estimated it would cost more than $30 Billion to bury Oklahoma’s power lines.

On OG&E’s website, it claims that could raise customers bills by anywhere from $80 to $260 per month for at least 30 years.

“I would say the economic damage of going 2-3 weeks without power is even more costly,” said Dollens. 

Dollens and Walke are both hopeful for more preparation and transparency as thousands still spend another day in the dark.

“I want to say that I have had good relationships with OG&E in the past,” said Dollens. “We just want full transparency because I know that with that we can build trust and then that would also help their reputation with their own customers.”

Dollens says his request for service logs would be considered but not guaranteed.

“We’ve received the request from Representative Dollens, regarding our service logs. We are prohibited, by law, from sharing any information that may contain private customer data, however, we are mindful of all our customer concerns, including Representative Dollens. We will continue to work with him going forward,” OG&E said in a statement to KFOR. “In terms of prioritization – first priority is given to facilities that are essential to the health and welfare of the community, like hospitals, police and fire departments. Beyond that, our crews focus on repairs that return power to the greatest number of customers in the least amount of time. We will be sending an update on restoration shortly that will have some additional details,”

OG&E also sent the following update on power restoration Friday:

Our outage count is 43,000, which is down from 45,000 since noon. Crews will continue to restore power. Crews are also reconnecting power for those customers who sustained damage to their meter base and have confirmed completed repairs with customer service. Our next update is at 7 p.m.
We’re continuing to make good progress, however, we’re experiencing some delays. Crews are confronting dog bites, locked gates, blocked pathways and other obstacles – which slows our progress. The remaining restoration work is occurring in backyards. With the damage caused by this historic storm, backyard work is taking two to four hours longer, per home, than a typical restoration event.
Customers are asked to make sure their home can take power, clear a path to your backyard, make sure pets are safely away from the backyard, and unlock gates and cattle guards.

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management tells Dollens it is preparing a state request for FEMA so it can request a Major Disaster Declaration for Public Assistance.

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