From the Top — March 2024 | OEC News

Franchise agreements: What it means for OEC and Norman residents

Members in Norman may have recently seen a lot of information about Oklahoma Gas and Electric’s (OG&E) upcoming franchise agreement election on March 5. Because both OEC and OG&E provide electric service in Norman, you may wonder how this will impact OEC. Hopefully, I can shed a little light on the matter.

If you’re wondering what exactly a franchise agreement is, you’re not alone. A simplified definition is that a franchise is an agreement between a city (through a vote of the people) and a utility. The agreement gives a utility the right to use the city’s public rights-of-way to provide electric service in exchange for a franchise fee collected by the utility and paid to the city. In OG&E’s case, the vote is to extend the existing decades-long franchise agreement for another 25 years — the maximum allowed by the Oklahoma Constitution.

How does this affect OEC? Neither OEC as a cooperative nor our members are directly involved or meaningfully impacted by the outcome of the vote. It will not change where OEC provides service within the city of Norman today or in the future. It will not change anyone’s electric provider— those receiving electricity from OEC today will remain OEC members, and the same for OG&E. We do, however, have an interest in the outcome through OEC’s ability to coordinate and work beside OG&E throughout the city of Norman.

As interested observers, OEC’s official stance is neutral, however, if I personally had a vote (in full disclosure, I do not), I would vote “yes” and I hope it passes.

Two of the seven cooperative principles are Cooperation Among Cooperatives and Concern for Community. While OG&E is not a cooperative, we must coordinate with them and other providers across our service area in line maintenance and outage restoration efforts, ensuring we operate safely and efficiently within the cities we serve. I believe communities are strongest when all parties work together to provide all the essential services everyone needs to thrive.

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