COLUMBUS — “Piggy-backing on an ethics complaint filed against two Republican justices of the Ohio Supreme Court, Democratic candidate Mike Skindell said today that he will not accept campaign money from any party in a case before the court.
Skindell, who is running against incumbent Justice Terrence O’Donnell, issued a statement outlining his position in the wake of a complaint filed Monday against O’Donnell and Justice Robert Cupp by retired Judge William M. O’Neill, who is running against Cupp in the Nov. 6 election.
…Skindell continued: ‘Sadly, Ohio voters hear that Justices O’Donnell and Cupp each took $6,300 from First Energy within two weeks of hearing a case involving a powerful utility, and their faith in the Supreme Court is further eroded. Was this really that hard of a call? Recuse yourself or refuse the money — case closed.’”
COLUMBUS – “Citing a concern that FirstEnergy customers could be subjected to electric bill increases from approximately 4% to 30 % for Cleveland Electric Illuminating, 4% to 26% for Toledo Edison and 4% to 27% for Ohio Edison, the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC) and two major local government aggregation coalitions, representing all of FirstEnergy’s 1.9 million residential consumers, today filed briefs to ask the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to reject the utilities’ proposed electric security plan and the settlement of other parties that support it. The high end of the potential electric bill increases would affect customers who use electricity for heating (known as all-electric customers).
The OCC, the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (representing 172 local communities in ten counties in Northeast Ohio) and the Northwest Ohio Aggregation Coalition (representing 11 local communities including Toledo and Lucas County) continued to make the case that FirstEnergy’s proposal, filed April 13, does not qualify for approval under state law. NOPEC and NOAC provide governmental aggregation service to about 700,000 residential and small business customers of FirstEnergy in all three of the FirstEnergy service territories in Ohio.”
— Mart Burkowitz, Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel
COLUMBUS — “In a year notable for its barrage of presidential TV ads, a pair of Ohio utilities unaccustomed to high-profile spats is also taking to the airwaves in a dispute over future electric bills.
The rivalry involves Columbus-based American Electric Power’s request to raise rates as it recovers costs associated with switching to a deregulated market.
The utility company says the increases are necessary to cover contract obligations and protect its workforce, but competitors, led by Akron-based FirstEnergy, say the added charges will make it impossible to compete in AEP territory.
The often impermeable world of utility regulation has been translated for the airwaves into an ugly schoolyard squabble.
…Sandy Buchanan, executive director of Ohio Citizen Action, a watchdog group specializing in energy issues, said FirstEnergy did not raise rates — but did tack surcharges to cover its nuclear plants onto electric bills for years.
‘The way I read this is that AEP is saying, ‘Hey, wait a minute. FirstEnergy got this bailout, how come we can’t get a bailout now that we’ve decided to enter this retail market?” Buchanan said. ‘I mean, it wasn’t fair that FirstEnergy got a bailout, so is it now fair for AEP to get one? All of that is bad for consumers.’
GREENE TWP, PA — “David is slinging with both hands, having begun separate legal actions against energy giants Chesapeake Appalachia and FirstEnergy.
…The Little Blue Regional Action Group is seeking to protect the land. Members, in the intent to sue notice, wrote that the coal ash deposit “has caused widespread pollution in local groundwater, springs and surface water.” The group intends to sue in federal court 90 days after delivering the notice to FirstEnergy.
The coalition challenging Chesapeake Appalachia wants to use the land. Plaintiffs said in court papers that by failing to develop wells on land leased between 2003 and 2008, Chesapeake is holding them “hostage.” The coalition also is challenging the validity of some of the leases.”
Vapor from cooling tower at The Davis Besse nuclear power plant billows over farmland along Rt. 2 in Oak Harbor, Ohio, in January.
OAK HARBOR — “Engineers at the Davis-Besse nuclear reactor near Toledo found a pinhole coolant leak in a pipe weld Wednesday evening while inspecting the plant.
Davis-Besse was preparing to resume operations after more than a month-long reactor shutdown for refueling and plant maintenance.
In a report early Thursday to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, plant owner FirstEnergy Corp. estimated the leak of radioactive coolant inside the reactor containment building at about one-tenth gallon per minute.
Spokeswoman Jennifer Young said the leaked coolant flowed into a nearby floor drain and was captured for later processing. There were no injuries and no radioactivity escaped into the atmosphere, she said.”
CHARLESTON, WV — “Local citizens on Wednesday threatened to sue FirstEnergy Corp. over a huge coal-ash impoundment along the West Virginia-Pennsylvania border, alleging the operation is polluting area streams, tainting groundwater, and violating federal waste disposal requirements.
The Little Blue Regional Action Group sent Akron, Ohio-based FirstEnergy a formal notice of intent to sue the company over what is believed to be the largest such coal-ash disposal site in the nation.”
In this AEP advertisement, a man in a suit steals lemonade from a child and sets up his own stand. AEP likens that to FirstEnergy's approach.
COLUMBUS — “The companies sell the same product and, for the first time, are competing for the same customers. For all of the humorous commercials, this battle is not child’s play. At the heart of the fight is this question: How much should AEP be able to charge for the power-generating capacity it maintains so that customers in its territory can always keep the lights on, even when use spikes to very high levels?
AEP is looking for an increase in such charges.
Otherwise, the company contends, competitors can buy capacity from AEP at artificially low rates and use it to undercut AEP’s price.FirstEnergy says it is playing by the rules and is forcing AEP to compete, while AEP says the setup has deep flaws that could be catastrophic to its business. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is considering AEP’s request to allow a temporary increase in the charges.”
AKRON — “FirstEnergy’s annual meeting of shareholders lasted 10 minutes this morning as the company thwarted protestors who had been bussed in to voice their displeasure against the company.
For the first time, shareholders had to pass through metal detectors to get into the meeting. Board Chairman George Smart conducted the business portion of the meeting and ended the meeting within 10 minutes. FirstEnergy President and Chief Executive Officer Anthony Alexander gave no remarks about the company — a first — and entertained no questions.”
FirstEnergy will not be permitted to immediately close its smaller plants in Ashtabula, Eastlake and Cleveland.
PJM Interconnection, the independent company that manages the high-voltage grid from Ohio to the East Coast, has determined that the closings would cause major voltage inadequacies and equipment overheating in the regional grid.
But it will cost rate payers a little extra to keep the plants operating and to pay for about $1 billion in ordered upgrades to the company’s high-voltage transmission system in the next three years.”
CINCINNATI — “Cincinnati hopes its energy supply will soon be cheaper and greener.The city said Thursday it will be the first major city in America to choose a 100 percent ‘green’ electricity supply for its eligible residents and small businesses while saving as many as 53,000 households money through the city’s Government Aggregation Program.The city has selected First Energy Solutions as the city’s new electricity provider through an aggregation process in which the city represents all eligible individual customers as one larger buying unit to negotiate a lower price on electricity.”
CINCINNATI — “Cincinnati will be the first major city in America to choose a 100% ‘green’ electricity supply for its eligible residents and small businesses while saving as many as 53,000 households money through the City’s Government Aggregation Program.
The City has selected First Energy Solutions (FES) as the City’s new electricity provider through an aggregation process in which the City represents all eligible individual customers as one larger buying unit to negotiate a lower price on electricity. Specifically, Cincinnati is collectively becoming a giant consumer to whom the green energy market can sell.
FES’s selection will save the average eligible household approximately $133 per year on their electricity bills. Energy aggregation was proposed by City Council and approved by voters in November 2011.”
— Meg Olberding, Communications Director, City of Cincinnati
For a week, AEP has been running a commercial that depicts FirstEnergy as a man in a suit who is stealing from a girl’s lemonade stand. AEP said it is calling attention to the unfairness of a system that makes it too easy for competitors to take customers from the Columbus-based utility.
FirstEnergy disputes that and says AEP wants to hold its customers hostage to high prices.
The arguments are being made as the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio reviews a case that will set the level of a key fee for alternative electricity suppliers.
‘We felt there was some misinformation’ in the AEP ad, said Doug Colafella, a FirstEnergy spokesman. FirstEnergy has not taken its message to television, but Colafella did not rule it out.”
COLUMBUS — “American Electric Power Ohio has taken the unusual step of airing television ads in its ongoing debate with FirstEnergy Corporation over a pending rate case.
…At issue is a highly technical debate between the two utilities over AEP’s capacity charge, or how much the utility charges competitive suppliers for electricity they sell to customers in their service territory who switch. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is expected to make a ruling later this spring.
FirstEnergy Solutions and other competitive suppliers argue that AEP’s plan to charge $145 per megawatt-day for the first 21% of customers who switch, and $255 MW/day thereafter, is much higher than the market price for capacity, which will be $16 per megawatt-day in June.
AEP spokeswoman Terri Flora said with so many residential and small business customers now focused on the utility’s pending rate case, it made sense for the utility to explain their side of the story more publicly.”
The cooling tower of the Perry nuclear power plant.
PERRY — “Minor but potentially deadly mistakes involving radiation exposure of workers were a problem at the Perry nuclear power plant in 2011, say federal regulators.
The issue is the focus of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s annual public assessment of the power plant safety performance, beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Quail Hollow Resort, 11080 Concord Hambden Rd. in Painesville.
The NRC believes that overall, Perry operated safely over the last year. But the errors have put Perry under the microscope. The NRC has demanded that the plant develop a program to end the mistakes.
In a March 5 letter to Perry’s owner, the First Energy Nuclear Operating Co. of Akron, Cynthia D. Pederson, head of the NRC’s Midwest region, wrote that performance at the plant during the last year ‘continued to exhibit weaknesses in the area of human performance with 12 findings identified.’”
3,914 neighbors have sent handwritten letters and petitions urging FirstEnergy to retire their four Lake Erie coal plants as of July 15, 2011.
Letters to Senator Sherrod Brown and Senator Rob Portman
6,615 members have sent handwritten letters and petitions to Senator Brown urging him to support US EPA rules that will protect our health from polluting coal plants as of January 24, 2012.
3,751 members have petitioned Senator Portman urging him to support US EPA rules that will protect our health from polluting coal plants as of January 24, 2012.
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