Broken Arrow votes Tuesday on PSO franchise agreement


By John Dobberstein, Editor

Broken Arrow residents will vote Tuesday whether to extend the city’s franchise agreement with Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO) for another 25 years.

The agreement includes a 2% franchise fee and a new 1% fee to be paid by customers for “economic development” projects in Broken Arrow.

The current agreement was approved in 1998 and expires in May. The city’s legal department and City Manager Michael Spurgeon have been negotiating the proposed agreement with PSO for the past year.

The franchise gives PSO the right to use city streets, alleys and rights of way to provide service and maintain its electrical grid. That avoids the potentially time-consuming process of permitting for storm response and system growth.

Spurgeon says electricity is just as key to public infrastructure as the city’s road system, drinking water, sanitary sewer and stormwater.

“Since we don’t provide the electricity ourselves we need a provider that will provide reliable, affordable power to our citizens -- and when there are issues, to address those. And that’s what we currently have with PSO,” Spurgeon says.

All registered Broken Arrow voters are eligible to vote in the Tuesday election. Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Broken Arrow Mayor Debra Wimpee pointed the franchise is important in assuring fast response to power outages.

Broken Arrow is PSO’s second largest market and is home to many of the 1,100 PSO employees in the metropolitan area.

“PSO has been Broken Arrow’s partner in growth for decades, providing safe, affordable, dependable power to a growing community,” said PSO President and Chief Operating Officer Leigh Anne Strahler said in a statement.

Broken Arrow residents currently pay a 2% franchise fee that generates about $2.4 million a year that is used for public safety, fire, EMS, parks, tourism programs and other needs.

The council requested an additional 1% fee to be added for “economic development activities.”

Those funds would be utilized in two ways – the first being road widening and restructuring and relocating utilities. The second way is to provide funds to help qualified manufacturers or businesses in Broken Arrow, or to offer incentives to outside businesses to locate in the city.

Based on current collections, the 1% fee is expected to generate approximately $1 million annually. The average residential home uses 1,100 kWh per month. Based on the average usage, the economic development fee would result in an additional $1.25 per month for a customer.

“The private sector has choices, and we’re competing against other communities that have these types of funds available,” Spurgeon notes.

If the franchise agreement doesn’t pass, PSO wouldn’t stop providing electricity on Feb. 15, but the city would have to negotiate with a fee with the utility to work in the city’s right of ways. Spurgeon would have to meet with the city’s legal department on a new initiative and solicit feedback from community on why the agreement wasn’t supported.

More information on the franchise agreement can be found at

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