Energy

Increasing electric bills to bolster a utility credit rating opposed

Ohio lawmakers are negotiating the final version of the state budget this week and probably part of next week. The nearly 5,000 pages of the budget bill include about 270 words slipped into the document this week after the end of hearings setting rules to allow the Public Utilities Commission to raise electric rates to bolster an electric utility’s credit rating. There have been objections. (Photo Credit: Ohio Department of Development).

CLEVELAND — “A proposal allowing electric utilities to ask for a rate increase to keep their credit rating healthy has run into a buzz saw of opposition.

The latest count is that nine organizations representing consumers, businesses both small and large and the state’s major industries are firing opposition letters at the state’s top lawmakers, who are sequestered in a Conference Committee attempting to work out the state’s budget before the end of next week.

The provision enabling the state’s traditional electric utilities to ask the Public Utilities Commission for rate increases to bolster their credit standing, and thus the ability to borrow money, showed up earlier this week without notice. It was tucked into the nearly 5,000-page state budget bill that lawmakers had worked on — with many public hearings — for the previous 45 days.

…The Consumers’ Counsel and the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association were the first to ask lawmakers to remove the language. Outraged that the provision had been inserted at the last minute in the final version of the bill, they objected in writing on Tuesday before its approval by the Senate.”

— John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer

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