By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
An early March election is set for Yukon residents to decide whether to grant a 25-year franchise to a City of Yukon utility provider.
Ten Yukon polling places will be open Tuesday, March 2 for the special Oklahoma Natural Gas, ONG, franchise election.
Voter approval of the proposed franchise agreement would not affect rates that ONG customers pay, officials said.
“This franchise will outline how Oklahoma Natural Gas and the City of Yukon work together,” said Martie Oyler, ONG’s community relations manager. “Residents will continue to benefit from safe, affordable and reliable natural gas service as they have for so many decades.”
The “non-exclusive” franchise will be for 25 years and the City of Yukon will be compensated through a 2% “royalty”, according to the special election proclamation.
This would allow ONG to collect 2% from customers’ bills and pass those funds along to the City of Yukon.
A Yukon ONG franchise election was originally set for April 7, 2021 but postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Qualified electors living in Yukon’s corporate limits are being asked to approve a proposition granting the ONG franchise to give the utility company the right to “sell, transmit and distribute” natural gas in the City of Yukon.
City officials said establishing a franchise agreement would clarify ONG’s responsibilities in the City of Yukon.
A franchise agreement lays out detailed rights and responsibilities between the city and ONG for the next 25 years.
This franchise would allow ONG to work within the City of Yukon’s public ways to place, maintain and operate a natural gas system.
JOINING THE LIST
All other major utility companies beside ONG already have franchise agreements with the City of Yukon.
Approval of this franchise would replace the gross receipts ordinance that has been in place in the City of Yukon since 1942.
This ordinance already allows ONG to collect 2% from its Yukon customers that is passed through to the City of Yukon budget.
The revenue collected by ONG on behalf of the City of Yukon helps the city with future growth and improvements, according to Oyler.
If Yukon voters approve the March 2nd special franchise election, the only change ONG residential customers will see is the line-item description on their bills.
The 2% now collected and paid to the City of Yukon will remain the same.
ONG has been in Oklahoma since 1906 and many of its communities charge a 3% franchise fee.
When ONG officials first approached the Yukon City Council in January 2020 about formally establishing a franchise, they asked for a 3% fee. The council agreed on 2%.
ONG delivers reliable, affordable and efficient natural gas to more than 861,000 customers in Oklahoma.
A division of ONE Gas, Inc., ONG is the largest natural gas distributor in the state, in terms of customers.
Early voting for the ONG franchise election will be 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Feb. 25-26 at the Canadian County Election Board office in El Reno.
City of Yukon polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on election day Tuesday, March 2. Voters are advised that wait times will likely be shortest at mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
Anyone in line to vote at 7 p.m. will be allowed to cast a ballot.
Polling locations, voter registration verification and sample ballots can be accessed on the Oklahoma State Election Board’s website at http://www.elections.ok.gov.
Sample ballots are available at the Canadian County Election Board office. Those who vote by mail can check ballot status using the Online Voter Tool.