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Ohio excess profits case reflects ripples from FirstEnergy’s challenged credit rider

WRITTEN BY- Kathiann M. Kowalski

Consumer advocates say a proposed deal involving FirstEnergy’s earnings in Ohio ignores the interests of most ratepayers.

The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel says regulators should have included revenue from a credit support rider when calculating Ohio Edison’s allowable earnings last year. A deal struck between its parent company, FirstEnergy, along with state regulatory staff and a group of energy-intensive industrial companies could let the company keep $42 million in “significantly excessive earnings” from last year, according to the state’s consumer advocate.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio held a hearing on the proposed “settlement” on Nov. 29. The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel presented evidence and arguments against the plan.

“The PUCO’s settlement process is contributing to the electric utilities’ subsidy culture to the detriment of the consumers who pay for it,” said spokesperson J.P. Blackwood at the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel.

The case reflects a deeper problem with the way the PUCO rules on “settlements” agreed to by only a limited number of intervenors, said Rep. Mark Romanchuk, R-Ontario. “I don’t think that’s the way we should be making policy in the state,” he said.

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