Aryeh Alex, June 19, 2019
Columbus, OH—Today, the Supreme Court of Ohio ruled that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) must remove the Distribution Modernization Rider (DMR) from FirstEnergy’s Electric Security Plan. Through Rider DMR, the PUCO awarded $204 million per year for three years to FirstEnergy, with the stated intent that FirstEnergy invest in grid modernization projects. The OEC, along with our partners, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Law & Policy Center, and a host of other environmental and consumer advocates, challenged Rider DMR, arguing that it was nothing more than a credit support rider for FirstEnergy with zero conditions requiring FirstEnergy to actually use any amount of the funds for grid modernization. In essence, Rider DMR was just another bailout for FirstEnergy on the backs of their customers under the guise of grid modernization.
The following statement can be attributed in whole or part to Miranda Leppla, Vice President of Energy Policy and Lead Energy Counsel:
“We applaud the Supreme Court of Ohio for protecting Ohioans from unjustified charges on their bills. The Court’s determination that Rider DMR was ‘unlawful and unreasonable’ is a huge win for FirstEnergy customers, who have been required time and time again to pay for FirstEnergy’s poor business decisions.
“The Court is correct that ‘wishful thinking cannot take the place of real requirements, restrictions, or conditions’ on the use of the Distribution Modernization Rider funds, and the OEC is pleased that FirstEnergy customers will not be forced to pay this type of improper charge moving forward.
“This decision is timely and relevant for state decision makers who are currently debating yet another request for a corporate handout by FirstEnergy. It should serve as a cautionary tale that granting free money with no strings attached is unlawful, unreasonable, and unjust.”