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Groups: Serious Talk Needed About Future of Ohio's Energy Market

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Consumer groups maintain rate increase cases and power purchase agreements filed by the utilities are muddying the waters of Ohio's energy market. (Pixabay)
Consumer groups maintain rate increase cases and power purchase agreements filed by the utilities are muddying the waters of Ohio's energy market. (Pixabay)
July 12, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio's energy market experienced some confusing changes in recent years, and some consumer groups contend electric customers deserve a more level playing field.

Deregulation was approved in 1999, which allowed customers to purchase their power from a retailer of their choosing.

Since then, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has worked to phase out regulated rates.

But the former head of the PUCO, Todd Snitchler, maintains rate increase cases and power purchase agreements filed by the utilities are muddying the waters.

"There's an effort to subsidize generation that may not be competitive and results in assistance to a company's bottom line, but has the potential to harm the wholesale power market, which means customers would end up paying more than they should have to pay for the power they're already consuming,” he states.

The state's utilities have struggled to compete in the deregulated market. In April, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission blocked a plan approved by the PUCO for FirstEnergy and AEP that would guarantee income for some aging coal and nuclear plants.

Snitchler argues that the settlements would have passed the buck on to consumers to the tune of nearly $6 billion over eight years.

With all the confusion, Trey Addison, associate state director of AARP Ohio, says it's time for state legislators to have a serious conversation about the lack of direction in Ohio's energy market.

And he contends the bottom line is customers cannot afford to pay to bail out failing utilities.

"You can look at it and say $7 or $10 a month added on a bill is not a lot of money, but for someone on fixed income that's a huge lift and it's unfortunate that utility companies aren't thinking about that as they continue to go after rate increases and power purchase agreements," he points out.

AARP is working with other organizations, including the Alliance for Energy Choice and the Ohio Consumers' Counsel, to educate consumers about the implications of policies and decisions made regarding the state's utilities.



Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH