In the wake of the Ohio Republican legislature (with a few Democrats) passing Senate Bill 310 in June of 2014 – a bill that put Ohio’s renewable and energy efficiency programs on hold – American Electric Power and Duke Energy have followed up by petitioning the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) for ratepayer bailouts for their oldest and dirtiest coal plants. FirstEnergy, with its base in Northern Ohio, is petitioning for a bailout for its Davis-Besse atomic reactor on Lake Erie as well as its polluting coal plants. These bailouts, called power purchase agreements, would be a line item on electric bills that no costumer could avoid, even if they’re buying power from a different company than the one that is delivering power to the customer’s home.

AEP and Duke kicked the process off and both have separate cases before the PUCO seeking to secure riders for power purchase agreements for two almost 60-year-old coal plants – Kyger Creek in Ohio and Clifty Creek in Indiana. See the Sierra Club Coal Campaign’s fact sheet on Kyger Creek as an example of how dirty and inefficient these coal plants are.

AEP’s proposal would increase rates by an estimated $117 million while Duke’s proposal is so poorly defined it’s difficult to tell exactly how much rates could increase – but increase they would. AEP and Duke are essentially asking for a blank check to invest more in coal at the expense of customers, the environment and public health. Consumers’ Counsel has determined that FirstEnergy’s rate deal would cost customers an extra $3 billion!
FirstEnergy is requesting a bailout for its aging and money-losing coal plants and also for their accident-prone Davis-Besse nuclear power plant with its cracked shield building! At the time of this printing, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is holding public hearings in Akron (January 12), Toledo (January 15), and Cleveland (January 20) on FirstEnergy’s request.
Bailouts for any of these facilities could set a dangerous precedent for bailouts for other plants. This would also create another impediment keeping Ohio from reducing its exceptionally high emissions of carbon, soot, smog and mercury – not to mention the dangers of the embrittled Davis-Besse, which problems are detailed in the Ohio Sierra Club’s fact sheet.

This will be a challenging fight, but it’s winnable. Already, expert staff at the PUCO have objected to AEP’s request and Kroger, the Ohio Manufacturers’’ Association, Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy, and the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel have filed jointly to dismiss Duke’s proposal. AARP and major corporations, including Wal-Mart, have spoken out against the bailouts.

TAKE ACTION! The PUCO is soliciting comments from the public on these bailout requests. The comment period on FirstEnergy’s request will remain open for a time after its January 20 hearing, until the PUCO makes its decision one way or another. Email and note in the subject and at the top of your email “OPPOSITION COMMENT UNDER CASE #: 14-1297-EL-SSO.” You don’t need to do more than simply say you do not want ratepayer’s electric rates to be raised to subsidize the aging and accident-prone Davis-Besse and FirstEnergy’s dirty coal plants.

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