It seems that, while both the City of Norman and City of Bethany are both considering renewals of franchise agreements for OG&E, Bethany is taking a much firmer position on the negotiations than Norman.
While I'm in the process of reaching out to Mayor Westmoreland to get more information on how they came to the decision to forestall a vote on a new franchise agreement, what say you?
My concern with these franchise agreements is the following: For the use of city right-of-ways, OG&E collects between $2.5 and $3 million from their Norman customers that is then remitted to the city. OG&E also "pays" a little more than $500,000 in energy credits for the electricity used by city traffic lights and the municipal complex.
What does each side get in this kind of agreement?
- OG&E, for the bargain price of $500k/year, gets to build their revenue-generating infrastructure assets on public right-of-ways. These assets can be leased (like telephone pole leasing to telecom companies), used as collateral for loans, or sold.
- The city receives $500k in energy credits for the municipal complex and traffic lights.
- Norman residents get......what exactly for the $2.5-$3 million paid through OG&E to the city? Smart meters. Brownouts in the core where infrastructure is aging, but usually decent service. Tree cutting (often without notice). Somewhat indiscriminate defoliant/Round-up spraying.
A recap of the evening can be found here.
In the end, we approved an amended franchise agreement to send to voters. Not long after, OG&E changed their stance on negotiating the agreement, which is where we stand now. The city has retained outside legal counsel specializing in this kind of negotiation, we are working on a tree and vegetation management ordinance, and councilmembers remain committed to hammering out the best deal for Norman residents.