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PUCO Abruptly Pulls FirstEnergy Renewable Energy Credit Overpayment Case

Ohio Environmental Council, July 31, 2013

Estimated $100 million or more in consumer reimbursements hang in the balance.

UPDATED: The vote has been rescheduled for Wednesday, August 7, at 1 p.m. PUCO meetings are open to the public. Details and directions here.

Just one week after scheduling a vote on a controversial case in which utility giant FirstEnergy allegedly overcharged their customers $100 million or more, the Public Utilities Commission (PUCO) unexpectedly cancelled the scheduled vote from today’s meeting agenda.

Today’s action means that FirstEnergy customers have to wait indefinitely for the PUCO to take action on this case, and therefore delay what could equate to millions in reimbursements to FirstEnergy customers.

“By putting off the decision to vote on this case today, the PUCO is putting the interests of one utility before the interests of hundreds of thousands of electric customers who potentially paid way more on their utility bill than they should have,” commented Brian Kaiser, Director of Green Jobs & Innovation for the Ohio Environmental Council. “Who knows when a vote on this case will be scheduled again?”

At the core of this PUCO case is whether or not the Akron-based utility FirstEnergy overpaid for Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) and then passed those charges on to their customers.

American Electric Power – Ohio (AEP-Ohio), a competitor of FirstEnergy, as well as consumer advocates like the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC) and environmental organizations are intervenors in the case, asserting that FirstEnergy inflated the value of RECs it sold in the electric marketplace.

Portions of audit reports compiled by PUCO staff that investigated the overpayment case were closed off to consumer advocates, on account of FirstEnergy’s claim that the dollar amounts paid are confidential.

The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that the amount of the overpayments could total as much as $96 million to $126 million; others believe it could total even more.

“The PUCO has access to FirstEnergy records, and understands just how deep this rabbit hole goes,” continued Kaiser. “The PUCO has a duty to consumers and should step up to the plate to ensure ratepayers get their money back from FirstEnergy.”

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