Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

March 17, 2014

NOPFA brought natural gas to city

TAHLEQUAH — Sixty years ago, the residents of Tahlequah relied on propane, electricity and wood to heat their homes and businesses.

The effort to change those circumstances began in 1958 with the establishment of the trust known today as the Northeast Oklahoma Public Facilities Authority, which brought natural gas service to the city.

An instigator of NOPFA was Dr. Harrell E. Garrison, president of Northeastern State University. Working with city leaders from Tahlequah and Fort Gibson, Garrison fought for creation of the trust in the face of fierce opposition by the liquid gas industry.

Dr. Brad Agnew, a professor of history at NSU and author of the Northeastern Centennial History, said Tahlequah voters granted a 25-year franchise to the Haskell Gas Co. in 1929. Two attempts to bring natural gas to the city were thwarted in court by the city’s propane and butane dealers.

“After securing the trust establishing the Northeast Oklahoma Gas Authority, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled it illegal because it did not have voter approval in the communities in which it operated,” Agnew said.

Harrison and the cities of Tahlequah and Fort Gibson quickly arranged special elections to put the trust to a vote. It was approved with almost no opposition.

The propane-butane industry forced another election, to no avail. On March 16, 1962, Harrison opened a valve to bring the first natural gas service to Tahlequah.

Today, NOPFA serves more than 13,000 homes and businesses in Tahlequah, Stilwell and Westville. It continues to operate as a trust.

“NOPFA is a bit of an odd creation,” said Tahlequah Mayor Jason Nichols. “It isn’t really a city operation like the Tahlequah Public Works Authority. I sit on the board of trustees, along with representatives of Stilwell and Westville, and our cities are beneficiaries, but NOPFA was organized by Garrison as a trust of NSU.”

Nichols said a “trust” is an entity created by state statute to conduct a certain function, most often utility service.

“Trusts have a few advantages - what I would call advantages - in that they can be run a little more like a business and a little less like a government agency,” he said.

The NOPFA Board of Trustees sets natural gas rates, which are affected by the cost of purchase among other factors.

“At the end of each month, actual natural gas cost is determined by the seller, transportation costs are determined by the transporter and operational expenses are figured,” said Jim Reagan, general manager for NOPFA. “The total dollar amount is then billed to each customer, per 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas.”

The supplier of natural gas to NOPFA is Clearwater Enterprises LLC, a company based in Oklahoma City. Because natural gas is a speculative commodity, NOPFA has the option of entering purchasing contracts ranging in duration from six months to three years.

“Typically, NOPFA’s contracts for natural gas are formulated on a percentage of the estimated monthly load, for a determined dollar amount - any excess volume used is purchased at market pricing,” Reagan said. “Contracts, stating a percentage of monthly usage at a set price, reduce the risk of exposure to a volatile daily market price.”

Some price factors lie far beyond Oklahoma. In recent months, an unusually cold winter created an unanticipated spike in gas consumption in the northeast and Great Lakes regions.

The usage depleted reserves and sent prices soaring.

“Hurricanes and earthquakes can affect gas prices,” Reagan said. “Extended periods of hot weather are now a factor, because many electric power plants are converting from coal to natural gas. Exports of gas also play a role in pricing.”

Billing for NOPFA is handled by the Tahlequah Public Works Authority. A standard deposit to begin residential service is $150. If service is cut off due to a delinquent account, there is a $50 reconnect fee, and $50 must be added to the deposit.

Customers can file a written request for hardship consideration, which must include an explanation of circumstances which might support the request.

Stays of service suspension and extension of payment deadlines can be made at the discretion of Reagan or Julie Sevier, office manager.


To see a list of the current NOPFA Board of Trustees, go to tahlequahdailypress.com/onlineexclusives


Text Only
Local News
  • jn cvbc fire.jpg Church catches fire after burglaries

    Authorities are looking for the person accused of breaking into the Crescent Valley Baptist Church two times this week and likely causing a fire that damaged the youth building early Wednesday morning.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • svw Humane photo.tif More volunteers needed to house strays, help with spay-and-neuter

    Furry friends may seem like the perfect addition to round out a family.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Marijuana, seeds lead to four arrests

    Four people were arrested on marijuana related charges early Wednesday morning after a traffic stop on South Muskogee Avenue.

    July 24, 2014

  • Sex offender found living in tent at river

    Cherokee County sheriff’s investigators arrested a convicted sex offender this week when they discovered he has been living in a tent along the river.

    July 24, 2014

  • ts-NSU-MAIN.jpg Fledgling RiverHawks arrive

    Over 200 incoming freshmen took part in orientation class at Northeastern State University

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • svw-TCP-jump.jpg Tahlequah Community Playhouse revving up for new season

    Tahlequah Community Playhouse is kicking of its 41st season with a nod to friendship and aging.
    TCP finished auditions for its first play of the season, “The Dixie Swim Club,” on Tuesday.

    July 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Infant mortality dropping in county

    When a mom-to-be is expecting a healthy, happy baby, every week of pregnancy is crucial.
    Short gestation, or premature births, is a leading cause of infant mortality. Any child born before reaching 37 weeks of gestation is considered premature.

    July 23, 2014

  • Board considers combining tourism, chamber positions

    Members of the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the local Tourism Council are discussing the possibility of combining two jobs into one.
    Chamber President Steve Turner encouraged board members Tuesday morning to be prepared next month to decide how it will begin a search for a new executive director.

    July 23, 2014

  • New chamber board members nominated

    Three new board members will likely be installed during the regular August meeting of the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce.

    July 23, 2014

  • ts-camp-cherokee-main.jpg Camp Cherokee

    About 500 area youth attending popular camp for tribal citizens.

    In reality, two camps are taking place at the Camp Heart ‘o the Hills: a day camp for children in first through sixth grades, and a residential camp for those in middle and high school.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos


Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites Anti-violence Advocate Killed, but Not Silenced. Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase