PUCO OKs up to $1B in New Costs for FirstEnergy Customers


This week the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) approved a new “grid modernization” rider that amounts to an unwarranted subsidy for FirstEnergy that will stifle competition, drive electricity costs up and harm manufacturing competitiveness. Eric Burkland, OMA president, issued a statement commenting on the PUCO decision to allow FirstEnergy to collect up to $1 billion in above-market customer charges: “Today’s decision by the PUCO to give FirstEnergy a subsidy through a “grid modernization” rider is a setback for electricity consumers in Ohio. If implemented, the rider essentially will serve as another new tax, potentially costing families and businesses $1 billion, while also setting a precedent for the PUCO to grant above-market customer charges to the state’s other utilities to bolster utilities’ financials. “These unwarranted new costs will put another strain on the budgets of families, particularly those least advantaged, and will harm the competitiveness of businesses, especially those that are energy intensive. “What do these electricity customers get for the new costs? Pretty much nothing. The customers are being asked to pay FirstEnergy with no direct consumer benefits. The rider is called a “grid modernization rider,” but requires FirstEnergy to do nothing to actually modernize the grid. “Customers are paying to prop up the finances of a failing company. FirstEnergy should address its own financial troubles by using methods manufacturers and other businesses are required to use – cut costs, sell assets, sell equity – rather than rely on a customer bailout.”  10/12/2016