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The Ohio Supreme Court Strikes Down FirstEnergy Charge

photo of FirstEnergy building
TIM RUDELL
/
WKSU
The Ohio Supreme Court blocks the prices that Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. has been charging its customers since 2017.

A split Ohio Supreme Court blocked a charge FirstEnergy Corp. customers have been paying since 2017, saying state regulators improperly allowed it to go forward. This charge cost customers as much as $200 million for each of those two years.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and FirstEnergy argued the charge was to shore up credit so the utility could begin the very expensive grid modernization process.

Kimberly Bojko represented manufacturers, residential and commercial groups. She told the justices in January that this rider was an illegal corporate bailout that customers will be forced to pay for.

“….without any meaningful protections to ensure that their funds are ever used to modernize distribution infrastructure and not subsidize FirstEnergy’s parent company, FirstEnergy Corp,” Bojko said.

Four justices agreed and said when the PUCO approved the rider, it didn’t put conditions on it.

It’s unclear whether customers who paid the charge will get their money refunded.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.