Ohio Supreme Court Hears Complaints Over FirstEnergy Deal

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The Ohio Supreme Court heard arguments today (Wed) in a rate case between the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and the power purchasing aggregator Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council – or NOPEC.  

Ideastream’s Mark Urycki reports the outcome of the case could have an effect on a new FirstEnergy rate proposal being discussed later this month.   

 

While the big controversy in Ohio is a new FirstEnergy plan before the PUCO, the Supreme Court will decide whether the last plan – worked out in 2012 – was proper.  The governor appoints all five members of the commission who approved of a FirstEnergy Electric Service Plan or E-S-P in 2012. 

 For the last 3 years NOPEC and the Environmental Law and Policy Center have argued the commission erred by considering special incentives the company included– like enticing automakers to stay in the state or helping the Cleveland Clinic expand. 

They argued rate plans should be judge mainly on issues like pricing, quantitative measures not qualitative provisions.

Justice Terrance O’Donnel, like others on the court, asked plaintiff’s lawyer Madeline Fleischer what they can do at this late date when the plan is expiring in May.

O’DONNEL “If we were to agree with you what would we do with this case? Send it back to the PUCO to do this over again?

FLEISCHER   “I would say no, your honor. It’s a difficult issue but what we’re looking for here is a ruling that this can’t happen again in the future.  We’re litigating ESP cases now; we’re going to continue to litigate them.” 

Justice Paul Pfeifer wondered whether FirstEnergy is arguing that keeping old coal-fired plants operating will save mining jobs to sway the commission.  The NOPEC attorney replied no,  that’s part of the NEXT rate plan.  FirstEnergy is back in hearings before the PUCO for its new rate plan next week.   

FirstEnergy's attorney argued that the rate deal offered price stability to customers. 

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