Columbus, OH (Vocus) May 14, 2009
An auction to serve electricity to FirstEnergy's Ohio customers means rates should fall below current prices beginning in June, the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC) said today. The OCC reacted to the approval of the auction results announced by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO).
While the OCC is continuing to review the auction results, it has preliminarily concluded that the price residential customers will pay as a result of the auction will be lower than the price FirstEnergy proposed in July 2008 in its original electric security plan as well as lower than the rate the PUCO authorized and that FirstEnergy rejected as not being high enough.
"This is a great outcome for consumers in Northern Ohio, who have struggled with high rates for too long. While utility rates are increasing around the state, a rate decrease is welcome news," said Consumers' Counsel Janine Migden-Ostrander. "The efforts the OCC has made to ensure customers receive the benefits of the lowest prices possible have been a success."
In part the OCC's efforts occurred during the debate last year about Ohio's energy law, which required Ohio's investor-owned electric utilities to submit electric security plans to the PUCO. Utilities also could submit a plan to price electricity on market rates. The OCC advocated for language in the legislation that would provide customers with the lower of the market or regulated rates. The OCC believed at the time that due to FirstEnergy's high rates, a competitive market rate might lower rates and, therefore, should be tried.
FirstEnergy's original market rate offer was rejected by the PUCO in December 2008 because it failed to meet a number of requirements. FirstEnergy's electric security plan was modified and approved by the PUCO in December 2008. Based on a provision in the state's energy law, however, FirstEnergy rejected the PUCO's decision.
As a result of later discussions regarding a rate plan for FirstEnergy, the competitive bid was conducted and has yielded the lowest rate.
About the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel
The Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC), the residential utility consumer advocate, represents the interests of 4.5 million households in proceedings before state and federal regulators and in the courts. The state agency also educates consumers about electric, natural gas, telephone and water issues and resolves complaints from individuals. To receive utility information, brochures, schedule a presentation or file a utility complaint, residential consumers may call 1-877-PICKOCC (1-877-742-5622) toll free in Ohio or visit the OCC Web site at http://www.pickocc.org.