Ohio Citizen Action / Victory

Victory on utility bailouts

Congratulations everyone! We didi it!

Congratulations everyone! We did it!

Ohio electricity customers won a huge victory April 27, when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) stepped into the debate over two controversial consumer bailouts, proposed by FirstEnergy and American Electric Power (AEP).

FERC’s decision overrides previous approval by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) and affirms complaints filed by Ohio Citizen Action and the Ohio Consumers’ council in February that increasing customers’ bills to prop up expensive, outdated, and polluting coal and nuclear plants- even if they don’t use power from those plants- is not only unjust, but undercuts competition.

Two previous bailout proposals had already been denied by PUCO, meaning that Ohio’s big three utility companies- Duke, FirstEnergy and AEP – are now 0 for 4 in their attempt to avoid paying for decisions to delay investments in cleaner, more efficient energy sources.

Since September 2014 Ohio Citizen Action members and allies:

  • Wrote 15,429 letters to Governor Kasich
  • Submitted more than 10,000 comments to the official PUCO case dockets
  • Directly phoned the governor’s office and PUCO commissioners (6,546 people)
  • Signed our online petition to Governor Kasich and PUCO (4,112 people)
  • Turned out to the FirstEnergy hearing in Cleveland (200 people) and testified against the bailouts (80 people)
  • Sent 665 photo postcards to the PUCO
  • Protested at PUCO headquarters in Columbus (100 people)
  • Submitted 41 letters-to-the-editor at Ohio newspapers

Thank you and congratulations!

Jessica Smith-Szabo, staff director for Ohio Citizen Action, addresses the crowd in Columbus at a rally protesting FirstEnergy’s utility bailout request in April 2015.

Jessica Smith-Szabo, staff director for Ohio Citizen Action, addresses the crowd in Columbus at a rally protesting FirstEnergy’s utility bailout request in April 2015.

Bailout Background:

Duke Energy, AEP, and FirstEnergy teamed up to file proposals with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) in 2013 and 2014 to get permission to raise consumer rates and use the profits to cover the costs of seven coal plants and one nuclear plant. These energy companies want to shift the cost of these outdated power plants to consumers because they are no longer competitive in the free market.

FirstEnergy’s request included the Sammis coal plant, Davis-Besse nuclear plant, and FirstEnergy’s share of the jointly owned Clifty Creek and Kyger Creek plants. AEP ‘s expanded request included the Stuart, Zimmer, Conesville, and Cardinal coal plants as well as their share of the Kyger Creek and Clifty Creek plants that were denied in their first filing.

Under these plans, ratepayers would have been forced to pay the utilities specifically for the power from these coal-fired and nuclear power plants. Customers would have had to purchase power from these plants, even if they have chosen a different energy provider, because the power purchase agreements were filed as nonbypassable. These plants are well beyond their prime, and they cannot compete economically or environmentally in the free market.

If these utilities were able to sell this generation capacity at a profit on the open market, they wouldn’t be asking for customers to bail these facilities out. Millions of Ohio consumers paid billions of dollars to these same utilities for their transition to deregulated power plants, under a 1999 Ohio law. Fifteen years later, they are again asking consumers to pay charges related to the power plants.