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PUCO Orders Utilities to Reduce Rates

October 26, 2018

In good news for Ohio utility customers, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) ordered Ohio’s regulated public utilities to file applications to reduce their rates due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA).

The Commission ordered electric, natural gas, water and wastewater utilities whose rates are regulated by the PUCO and serve more than 10,000 customers to file an application by Jan. 1, 2019 to reduce rates.

In its order, the Commission noted a few utilities have already reduced certain riders, or adjusted base distribution rates through recently approved rate cases.

The Commission also stressed that utilities that fail to file an application to reduce rates in compliance with this order may be subject to monetary fines.

The OMA Energy Group intervened in this proceeding in order to ensure that members’ interests are protected and that the full benefit of the TCJA is passed back to customers, as required by law. 10/24/2018

PUCO Establishes Planning Groups

October 26, 2018

This week the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) issued an order to establish the PowerForward Collaborative, and its subgroups, the Distribution System Planning Working Group (PWG) and the Data and Modern Grid Workgroup (DWG).

The PowerForward Collaborative is an overarching workgroup of utility stakeholders, and will be led by the PUCO staff. The collaborative is tasked with observing marketplace development to ensure PowerForward’s principles and objectives are being fulfilled.

The PowerForward Roadmap contemplates that the collaborative will discuss issues associated with electric vehicle infrastructure, as well as a process for the deployment of non-wires alternatives.

The PWG and DWG will include discussions surrounding the integration of distributed resources and non-wires alternatives into the system, data access and data privacy.

The collaborative’s first meeting will be Dec. 6, 2018, at the PUCO offices in Columbus.You can opt in to PowerForward email updates. 10/25/2018

DOE Utility Bailouts Foundering in White House

October 19, 2018

Reports from the nation’s capital indicate that the generating plant bailouts proposed by Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry have run into opposition within the White House, because of concerns about their certain negative effect on the economy, and on consumers.

That is very good news for Ohio manufacturers.

Message to the Ohio General Assembly (which is being pushed by Ohio utilities for expensive state-level bailouts): If it doesn’t pass muster among the president’s economic advisors, it should not pass muster with you. 10/17/2018

OMA Seeks Court Reconsideration on $294 Million in Utility Overcharges

October 19, 2018

Together with Kroger and the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, the OMA has filed to ask the court to reconsider its recent ruling to allow DP&L to retain $294 million in charges which were deemed unlawful by the Supreme Court of Ohio.

Under the court ruling, Ohio electricity consumers can be illegally overcharged but have no recourse to refunds. The statute that the court relied on in its ruling needs to be changed, and would be by HB 247, sponsored by Rep. Mark Romanchuk (R-Mansfield). 10/17/2018

OMA Files Against AEP Proposal for 900 Megawatts of Solar Generation

October 19, 2018

The OMA Energy Groups is urging the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to deny an AEP attempt to bypass a “need” determination for its proposal to stick its customers with the costs of 900 megawatts of solar generation it proposes to build.

In the robust competitive market for generation in Ohio, consumers can, and do, purchase renewable energy in increasing amounts. Consumers are also increasingly developing their own renewable energy resources.

There is no “need” (except perhaps for the utility) for this mandate on consumers. 10/17/2018

Supreme Court of Ohio Decision re. DP&L Unlawful Charges Sets Bad Precedent

October 12, 2018

On October 4, 2018, the Supreme Court of Ohio issued a decision dismissing the appeal brought by the OMA Energy Group, among others, regarding the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio’s (PUCO) decision to allow the Dayton Power and Light Company (DP&L) to withdraw its second electric security plan (ESP II) after the court had previously determined that the PUCO-approved ESP II included $294 million in unlawful transition charges to customers.

Three justices joined the majority opinion, one justice concurred, and three justices dissented. The majority of the court decided that even though the PUCO approved an unlawful charge and then refused to rectify its error when told to do so by the court, customers would see no relief because a new ESP is now in place.

Kim Bojko of Carpenter Lipps & Leland, energy counsel to OMA Energy Group, wrote: “This decision sets a bad precedent for future cases because it allows the PUCO’s failure to properly implement a court order to go unchecked, to the detriment of customers.”

Dayton Daily News covered the case. 10/11/2018

Lake & Ottawa County Coalition Trying to Save Nuclear Plants

October 12, 2018

The Blade reports that a coalition, Ohio Clean Energy Jobs Alliance, consisting of representatives of local government, schools, economic development groups, skilled trade unions, and businesses, has formed to propel legislative efforts to preserve the nuclear power plants, Davis-Besse east of Toledo and Perry Plant east of Cleveland. The coalition is driven by economic impacts should the plants close.

The plants have been unable to compete against cheap and abundant natural gas, and efforts for customers to subsidize operations have been rejected.

OMA’s Managing Director of Public Policy Ryan Augsburger said, “We will be learning more about their proposal and discussing it at OMA’s November 14 energy committee meeting. Any effort to subsidize uneconomical power plants is suspect at best. While manufacturers support nuclear power, it needs to be competitive.” 10/11/2018

AEP to Pass $600M TCJA-Related Savings to Customers

October 5, 2018

AEP Ohio filed a proceeding with the PUCO to address the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) issues in its rates charged to customers.

The OMA Energy Group (OMAEG), along with other parties, intervened in this proceeding in order to ensure that members’ interests are protected and that the full benefit of the TCJA is passed back to customers, as required by law.

After extensive negotiations with AEP, PUCO staff, and the other parties to the case, all parties reached a settlement that resolves the tax issues and begins including the effects of the TCJA in the rates charged to customers, including refunds, immediately.

The total value of the settlement to AEP customers is estimated to be more than $600 million.

OMA energy counsel Kim Bojko, Carpenter Lipps & Leland, wrote: “This settlement reasonably addresses the changes in federal tax law brought about by the TCJA and allows all of AEP’s customers to begin realizing tax savings on their monthly bills in November or December. As such, OMAEG joined all other parties to this case in agreeing to the settlement. The parties anticipate that this settlement could be approved in time for November bills to reflect these tax savings.” 10/1/2018

AEP Seeks New Customer Rate Mandate

September 28, 2018

In an affront to Ohio’s policy supporting competitive electric generation markets, AEP asked the PUCO for permission to develop over 900 MW of renewable generation, which would be paid for by customers.

In its filing the Ohio utility claims it needs the generation in order to supply non-shopping customers with generation. In response, OMA energy counsel Kim Bojko of Carpenter Lipps & Leland wrote in her analysis of the case: “AEP Ohio concedes that the PJM wholesale markets are adequately supplying capacity and energy to the AEP Ohio load zone. Nonetheless, AEP Ohio argues that these self-supplied renewable resources are required to “most effectively” meet its obligation to provide a standard service offer (SSO) to its customers.”

The OMA Energy Group is a party to the PUCO case and will be asking tough questions to protect Ohio manufacturers from being forced to pay more distribution charges if there is not clear justification and benefit.

Contact OMA’s Ryan Augsburger to learn more about how your company can support the effort. 9/25/2018

LIFT Announces New Round of Lightweighting Innovation Projects

September 28, 2018

Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow (LIFT), a Manufacturing USA institute, has just announced the launch of its third round of technology projects.

This round of projects will total more than $6.5 million in combined federal and industry investment to enable a number of critical lightweight solutions. New projects will explore joining dissimilar materials, complex structures and environmentally-friendly approaches to coating metals.

OMA is LIFT’s state partner in Ohio.

Read about the funded projects here. 9/27/2018