Ohio Supreme Court Says Duke Energy Can Charge More to Cover Cleanup Costs

Jun 29, 2017

The court ruled in favor of the company, adding that Duke Energy is required by law to clean up the polluted land.
Credit DAN KONIK / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Ohio energy companies win some and lose some.  This week they lost a benefit in the new state budget that would have allowed them to charge customers more in order to achieve better credit ratings. But Thursday, they won in the Ohio Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ruled four-to-three in a case involving Duke Energy that utilities can charge customers for the cost of cleaning up their polluted land. Duke is remediating sites of two old manufactured gas plants in Cincinnati that have been closed for more than 50 years.   

Appellants argued today’s customers should not be charged for plants that are not “used or useful.”  They cited tw0 earlier decisions by the high court that did not allow Ohio Edison to pass on such costs. But in oral arguments Public Utilities Commission lawyer Tom McNamee said just because the plants are closed doesn’t mean they don’t qualify…

“They’re used and useful in providing service. The two main pipelines that run under the river come up at these two locations," he said.

Four justices agreed and also noted Duke Energy’s cleanup is required by federal law.  The majority ruled the utility can pass along to customers those $55 million dollars in costs because it is a “necessary and current cost of doing business.”