Douglas takes reins at OCC

Citing the need for technological innovation, strategic planning, and fighting federal encroachment, Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas began service as Commission Chairman Wednesday.  Douglas was elected chairman in a unanimous vote by the Commission last month. Commissioner Dana Murphy served as Chairman previously.

Douglas said her first focus is a strategic plan for the Commission.

“This will be another step forward in our push to increase efficiency and improving our service to those we serve,” Douglas said. “It will better enable us to prioritize and clearly show the taxpayer where every dollar is going and exactly how it’s being used to serve Oklahoma.”

Douglas said another goal is to take advantage of technology.

“Time is key when it comes to efficient regulation that ensures orderly economic development of such sectors as the energy industry while still protecting the environment, public safety, and the consumer,” Douglas said. “With the help of the Oklahoma Energy Secretary, the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board and the Groundwater Protection Council, we’ve been able to equip our oil and gas field inspectors with laptops and portable internet connectivity, making regulation and service in the field much faster and more efficient. But more needs to be done. Some of our computer systems are old and outdated, wasting time and money.”

Douglas said another concern is the push for increased federal regulation of areas that have been under state jurisdiction.

“These moves are being made on several fronts, including energy production and utilities,” Douglas warned. “Much of what has been proposed is needless and could be devastating to the consumer and the economy in general.”

Douglas is an attorney, banker, and former mayor of Edmond. She was appointed to the Commission by Governor Fallin in 2011. She will begin serving her elected term in January, as she is unopposed in the November election.

Among the areas regulated by the Commission are oil and gas drilling and production, public utility rates and services, petroleum storage tanks, filling stations, pipeline safety and trucking.