PUCO

photo of solar panels
SERGEY EDENTOD / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

State regulators have denied AEP’s plan to charge ratepayers a fee for what would be the largest solar project in Ohio.

The decision came down to whether electric customers needed the power plant in order to justify the additional cost to electric bills.

AEP proposed guaranteeing the purchase of solar power from two plants in Highland County, currently in development.

But the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio ruled against the proposal, saying AEP did not prove it was needed in order to add a new 28 cent monthly fee for the average ratepayer.

photo of FirstEnergy building
TIM RUDELL / WKSU

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.

photo of solar panels
SHUTTERSTOCK

The panel of state regulators that reviews utility rates will soon have a new leader who has a history of opposing renewable energy issues. This is causing concerns for supporters of a proposed solar farm from AEP.

Sam Randazzo’s appointment to chair the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio sent up red flags to supporters of AEP’s 400 megawatt solar farm.

Randazzo’s former group, Industrial Energy Users-Ohio, is against the proposal.

SERGEY EDENTOD, JAMES KELLEY, DAVID GAYLOR, ANDY CHOW / SHUTTERSTOCK/STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Environmental groups are opposing Gov. Mike DeWine’s appointment to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. DeWine picked Sam Randazzo to serve, and eventually chair the state regulation panel.

The groups are concerned with Randazzo’s past opposition to renewable energy issues.

A photo of solar panels
SHUTTERSTOCK

State regulators are holding hearings on what could be the largest solar farm in the state. Supporters say the argument is based on proving the state needs these renewable projects. 

AEP is touting its solar farm project in Highland County as a way to create thousands of jobs in Appalachia and ramp up renewable energy in Ohio.

The hearing is intended to determine if there’s a “need” for a new generation plant, which state law requires. 

solar panel
Sergey Edentod / Shutterstock

Unlikely groups are coming together to support what would be Ohio’s largest solar farm. Supporters of the project say it would give one area of the state a major boost.

Environmental advocates, business groups, and even a coal company are joining forces to support a solar farm proposal in Highland County.

Matt Evans, with the Boich Companies, a coal investor, said this would bring sorely needed jobs to Appalachia.

photo of PUCO
JO INGLES / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

The agency that regulates public utilities has a new plan for modernization of aging electricity grids.

Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chairman Asim Haque said its new PowerForward plan is a comprehensive roadmap that will be used as electricity companies upgrade infrastructure.

He said the plan ensures grid security and the ability to adapt to future power usage, and it gives customers options.

photo of Bianca Edwards
KAREN KASLER / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Groups representing low-income people are calling on state regulators to reject AT&T’s plan to drop out of a federal program that helps over 10,000 of its Ohio customers afford telephone service.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Ohio Poverty Law Center and the Alliance for Retired Americans are among those defending the Lifeline program, which offers a credit that covers a quarter of the $36 average monthly cost of a landline telephone.

Rover Spill Clean Up
Ohio EPA

Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, Jan. 25:

Richard Cordray
WIKIMEDIA

Here are your morning headlines for Tuesday, December 5th:

Youngstown business district
Tim Rudell / WKSU

More than 40 buildings in Youngstown’s business district will pay extra for heating and cooling due to an emergency surcharge approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

photo of Ohio Supreme Court
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.

American Electric Power (AEP)
AEP Webcast / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

One of the state’s largest utility companies is proposing a change in the way they charge customers for their power. Consumer groups are objecting, but AEP Ohio says other changes will offset those costs. 

AEP wants to increase the fixed rate, or so-called customer charge, to ratepayer’s electric bills. It’s about a $10 hike per month. But they’re decreasing the cost of using power.

Consumer and environmental advocates argue this shift takes away the incentive to save power in order to lower electric bills.

photo of PUCO logo
PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION OF OHIO

For the next month, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is fielding applications for two open positions on the five-person board.

Commissioner Lynn Slaby – a former Summit County Prosecutor – will end his term in April, and Columbus lawyer Howard Petricoff resigned – effective December 31-- after a senate nominating committee declined to recommend him for the post.

photo of Howard Petricoff
PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION OF OHIO

A top utilities watchdog, nominated to that spot by Gov. John Kasich, has stepped down after the GOP-dominated Senate rejected that appointment. 

Senate President Keith Faber
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

The Ohio Senate has rejected a major appointment by Gov. John Kasich. As statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports, this could be a sign of friction among Ohio’s top Republicans.

Months of tension between the Senate and Gov. Kasich over his nomination of Columbus lawyer Howard Petricoff to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio culminated this week when a committee voted to reject Petricoff.

The Senate is called to advise and consent on gubernatorial nominations. Usually these committee votes are just a formality.

Senate President Keith Faber
OHIO PUBLIC RADIO

Among the things lawmakers are dealing with in this lame-duck session is whether the Senate will confirm a Democratic lawyer from Columbus to the commission that hears utility rate cases.

Senate President Keith Faber says he and his fellow Republicans have what he calls “significant concerns” about Howard Petricoff and said he wanted to talk to the governor about them, but hasn’t been able to.

Keith Faber
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Approving a governor’s appointee is usually a formality for the Ohio Senate. But the chamber’s leader says he has concerns about a Democratic lawyer from Columbus who is Gov. John Kasich’s pick for the panel that regulates electric utilities in Ohio. 

Republican Senate President Keith Faber says he wants to hold fact-finding hearings on energy lawyer Howard Petricoff. Faber says it’s one thing to be an advocate for issues, but he says he’s concerned about Petricoff being an activist for certain causes.

photo of Cathy Cowan
ANDY CHOW / OHIO PUBLIC RADIO

Note: This is the first of three stories examining Ohio's environmental and energy future.  

Something as simple as flipping a switch can turn the lights on and off in your home. But many major complicated decisions take place in order to keep those lights on.

As Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports, these decisions have reached a critical point that could change the landscape of the energy industry in Ohio.

AEP photo of transmission lines
AEP

 State officials, utilities and other groups have worked on deregulating the energy market in Ohio for more than a decade. Now two major utility companies want to go back toward re-regulation after the feds nixed their temporary rate-hike plan.

photo of FirstEnergy building
TIM RUDELL / WKSU

Federal regulators have blocked Akron-based FirstEnergy and Columbus-based American Electric Power from imposing controversial rate hikes  on customers to bring in money for struggling coal and nuclear plants.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says the deals that state regulators approved last month for FirstEnergy and AEP aren’t valid unless they get federal approval. Among those celebrating is Todd Snitchler, who’s with a group of electricity generators that opposed the utilities plans.

Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis logo
Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis

 A new study is providing more ammunition for opponents against the so-called coal plant bailout proposed by two electric utilities. 

The report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis , or IEEFA, says FirstEnergy’s plan to guarantee a profit for their struggling coal plants would cost consumers $4 billion.

photo of Sammis power plant
WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Utilities, energy officials and environmental advocates are all debating a landmark proposition that would set the stage for the future of energy in Ohio. And as Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports, for the average consumer, this could mean paying hundreds of dollars more on electric bills.

Who should be paying to keep inefficient power plants that don’t do very well in the market afloat: The utility company or its customers?

That’s the question these proposals, known as power purchase agreements, come down to.

photo of Bill Allen
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

  The state’s utility regulators are looking over a plan that would guarantee a profit for two utilities that operate coal plants by raising the price on electric bills and want to hear why certain groups are ok with it. Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports.

AEP’s latest draft would keep three coal units afloat for eight years and then guarantee their closure by 2030.

Kasich
ANDY CHOW / OHIO PUBLIC RADIO

State officials could soon decide if some electric utility customers see a hike in their bills to keep coal plants running. Now Gov. John Kasich is offering his thoughts on the issue. Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is looking over what’s known as power-purchase agreements proposed by AEP and FirstEnergy. These essentially guarantee a profit for their coal plants regardless of their value in the market.