On Monday morning, OG&E Chairman and C.E.O. Sean Trauschke sent a letter to all the utility’s customers thanking them for being patient while the company dropped the ball on its response to the powerline-crippling Great Oklahoma Ice Storm of 2020.
The letter (full copy here) was about as corporate and arrogant as you’d expect a letter from OG&E would be. I can only imagine how many drafts, revisions, and – due to the size and magnitude of the ice storm – brave out-of-state PR contractors it took to put the thing together.
Naturally, the letter doesn’t apologize for – or even acknowledge – the company’s seemingly caught off-guard, poorly-communicated response to the ice storm. It also doesn’t specifically explain why so many tree limbs, which the company is supposed to keep away from power lines, caused so much damage.
It did, however, appeal to the mythos of the Oklahoma Standard:
Even under daunting conditions and facing extensive damage, we witnessed the Oklahoma Standard in action. Thousands came together from across the nation with a singular goal of restoring power safely. Neighbors helped neighbors and community organizations, working through United Way of Central Oklahoma, mobilized resources to help families and individuals in need — truly a model for the country.
If you ask me, the real Oklahoma Standard here is that whenever an ice storm hits the Oklahoma City metro, hundreds of thousands of residents have to go days, if not weeks or more, without power, and OG&E and their politicians don’t seem to want to do anything about it.
As a result, I’ve decided to write an open letter to OG&E CEO Sean Trauschke. Who knows? Thanks to our large and popular platform, maybe he’ll actually read the thing, call a board meeting, and then direct his company to take steps that will prevent such massive power outages from affecting customers when the next once in a generation weather event hits the metro in a couple of years or so.
Hahaha. I’m just kidding, but I guess it’s worth a shot. Check this out:
To whom it may concern, which based on the time it took OG&E to restore power to 25% of our city, is apparently no one…
Wait. That’s probably not the best way to get Mr. Trauschke to read the letter or take action. Let me start over, and take the traditional “I’m a long time customer” flattery intro route. Let’s try again…
Dear Honorable Mr. Trauschke,
Before we start, I’d like to say that just like my parents, grandparents, and my many other Oklahoma ancestors before me, I am a long-time, bill-paying customer of OG&E. In fact, it’s the power company I’ve counted on to fulfill my electric needs for my entire life!
Granted, none of that’s been by choice because OG&E is a “regulated” NYSE-traded utility monopoly that I’m forced to use for electric services, but I figured it’s worth mentioning. Additionally, I keep my house cold in the summer, leave a lot of lights on at night, and get tagged with frequent late fees because I always forget to pay my bill. Basically, when you go off my energy consumption per square foot, I’m an all-star customer doing my best to keep OG&E a large and profitable corporation!
On that note, I should also acknowledge you’ve done a good job as CEO. Well, at least for the shareholders! Sure, the stock has taken a hit since the pandemic panic back in the spring, but in 2019, the company made $433,000,000 in net income. That’s impressive. Just think of all the tree limbs you could cut down with that much money?!
Anyway, I know running a public corporation is a complicated business and beyond the layman’s understanding, which is why you make millions of dollars a year and can afford to live in a neighborhood that doesn’t deal with power outages. I’m also appreciative of the efforts of the badasses who get out and fix the lines. They’re braver than I’ll ever be. And yes, there is a pandemic going on at the moment.
With all that being said, and as one of the hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans who has lost power for weeks following an ice storm, I have one question for you –
WHAT THE F*CK, MAN!?!!
Seriously, why and how did it take so long to restore power? I went 9 days without it and felt like one of the lucky ones! Double also, why did the company suck so bad at communicating when power would be restored to customers? Just like Kevin Stitt having to deal with the pandemic, OG&E came off as totally unprepared and caught off guard! For a big billion-dollar corporation, that’s unacceptable.
Yes, Oklahoma weather is a pain in the ass, but guess what – we know Oklahoma weather is a pain in the ass! That, along with sports teams, conservatism and teenage pregnancy, is one of the only things we’re known for! We know it’s going to happen! Be prepared for it! It’s time for your company to listen to its customers and take aggressive steps to ensure fewer power outages the next time a tornado, ice storm, or even an inland-freaking-hurricane rolls through the heartland.
For example, I know you say burying all the power lines is cost-prohibitive and would cost the average customer something conveniently absurd like $300 a month, but maybe we don’t need to bury all the power lines. Also, maybe you could use your lobbyists to beg for some state or federal assistance to help pay for it. It does seem like a good infrastructure improvement project.
If that doesn’t work, you could also try maybe keeping trees farther away from powerlines. Novel idea, huh? That may cut a bit into those profits that your out-of-state shareholders and financial institutions hold so near and dear to their heart, but then again, maybe not as people will lose power the next time an ice storm rolls through, something that costs both customers and OG&E money.
But those are just my off-the-cuff, simpleton blogger ideas. You’re a smart dude with a lot of degrees. I’m sure you and your teams can figure out better plans and ideas that will put OG&E customers first, and prevent future widespread outages in the future, all while keeping rates low and affordable!
Hahaha. I’m just kidding again. We know that won’t happen. I look forward to writing another letter to you following the next once in a generation ice storm in a couple of years.
Lifelong OG&E Customer