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PUCO Rules for Consumers & Against FirstEnergy

Ohio Environmental Council, August 8, 2013

Finds the company acted improperly in dealing with itself, transferred millions from its customers to its unregulated division.

Just one week after re-scheduling a vote on a controversial case in which utility giant, FirstEnergy, allegedly overcharged their customers, the Public Utilities Commission (PUCO) ruled that the company owes customers $43.4 million for improper charges.

Today’s action means that the PUCO has taken a stand against uncompetitive practices by Ohio’s most unscrupulous utility company, FirstEnergy.

The ruling comes at a poor time for FirstEnergy. In an earnings call yesterday, the company told investors that it needs support from the Ohio Legislature to remove Ohio’s energy efficiency requirements, which are keeping electricity prices low, and hurting the Company’s competitive retail business.1

“The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and Ohio’s Consumer’s Counsel deserve the lion’s share of the credit for standing up to the corporate greed of FirstEnergy,” commented Brian Kaiser, Director of Green Jobs & Innovation for the Ohio Environmental Council.

“FirstEnergy consistently puts customers last and relies on corrupt schemes to make money—not a good business practice. Its time for all of us—consumers, investors, and regulators—to finally understand what this company and its leadership stand for.”

At the core of this PUCO case was whether or not the Akron-based utility, FirstEnergy, overpaid for Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) and then passed those charges on to their customers. Intervenors in the pending case, including one of FirstEnergy’s competitors, American Electric Power—Ohio (AEP-Ohio) as well as consumer advocates including the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC) and environmental organizations, argued that FirstEnergy gamed the system and cost customers millions.

Today, the Commission agreed.

“FirstEnergy wants energy efficiency dead in Ohio. If it succeeds, this would amount to a huge bailout from the legislature and another rip-off at consumers’ expense, pure and simple,” continued Kaiser.

“The PUCO and our lawmakers have a duty to protect consumers and keep our energy efficiency standards strong. The crooked games from FirstEnergy need to stop.”

1 Read the Cleveland Plain Dealer article.