AEP / Fixed Rate Hikes

Dear AEP: Ohioans work hard to afford our bills and conserve electricity- don’t make it harder with big hikes in customer charges

Using more electricity means your monthly utility bill goes up. And using less means your bill goes down, right? That’s what you’d expect, but that’s not what Ohio households will experience if the state’s Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) goes along with new proposals from the state’s leading utility companies.

AEP Ohio, Duke Energy, and FirstEnergy all have proposed to dramatically raise customer fixed charges in the coming months, as a hedge against falling revenues. Gains in energy efficiency and increased competition have been great for consumers, but utilities are worried these trends will hurt their bottom line. This fixed rate increase plan is intended solely to boost company profits.

An AEP Ohio customer could see their monthly fixed charge more than double over the next two years — adding $120 more to their annual energy bill. Duke Energy Ohio customers could see their fixed charges nearly quadruple — increasing their electric bill by more than $200 annually. For many people, this increase will feel like paying another one or two utility bills each year.

Fixed charges (also known as “customer charges”) are a bad deal for consumers. On a typical utility bill, consumers are charged a fixed (or base) fee for energy delivery and billing services and a separate usage fee that varies depending on how much energy a household uses each month. By conserving energy — turning off lights when leaving a room, adjusting the thermostat, or buying energy efficient appliances — households control their energy use and therefore should be able to lower their monthly bills.

But by raising the fixed portion of the bill, utilities increase your bill before you even flip a light switch, preventing you from controlling your bill and eroding the incentives and benefits of energy efficiency. Utility companies favor high fixed charges because they keep revenues steady despite variables like weather or consumer usage, but higher fixed charges hurt consumers by punishing those who need or choose to be thrifty with their energy use.

Fortunately, residents are getting wise to these games and coming together to say “no” to unfair fixed charge hikes. Last month, a proposal by Gulf Power in Florida to raise fixed charges was shot down after the public outcry. And many utility commissions around the country have rejected most proposals to increase them.

The PUCO now has an opportunity to protect Ohio residents as well by rejecting AEP Ohio’s unfair fixed rate hike proposal. And AEP Ohio residents have an opportunity to speak out very soon by sending your official comment to be added to the case.

The more customers who speak out, the greater the chances of blocking this unreasonable, unfair electric bill hike.

Please send an official comment to the Public Utilities Commission:

Public Utilities Commission of Ohio

180 East Broad Street

Columbus, Ohio 43215

Make sure you include the case number in your comment:

AEP: 16-1852-EL-SSO

Not an AEP customer, but want to comment on the proposed customer charge increase in your area? Visit ohiocitizen.org/current-campaigns/stop-fixed-rate-hikes/

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