PUCO, the 2015 Holiday Scrooge


The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) said “bah, humbug” to the holidays and moved to fast track consideration of the pending power purchase agreement cases of both FirstEnergy and AEP.  The process is now so rushed that observers are questioning the effect on stakeholders’ rights of due process. The OMA Energy Group worked through the holidays to prepare and file additional testimony in both cases. In supplemental testimony to the FirstEnergy case, OSU economist Dr. Edward (Ned) Hill said:  “(The proposal) re-imposes an oligopoly in the electric generation market,” deterring new entry and hurting long term reliability. Also in supplemental testimony in that case, OMA consulting engineer John Seryak said:  “(The new stipulation) creates costs and precedents for years to come.”  He noted a lack of “thorough, transparent cost analysis,” which should be a minimum requirement for PUCO consideration of the proposal. In the AEP case, Hill testified:  “Typically, if a market participant cannot compete in a competitive market, it will fail. Subsidizing an existing market participant in the hope that it may be able to compete at some point in the future is not in the public interest, nor is it good public policy. It will only deter entry and keep prices higher than they would otherwise be in a competitive market.” And, Seryak in the AEP case testified that the renewable energy proposed in the case, which would be financed by a non-bypassable rider (that is, every AEP customer would have to pay, including those who have shopped competitively for power), would cause many customers to pay twice for energy.