Today, the Public Utility Commission of Ohio (PUCO) affirmed its approval of a financial bailout that will force FirstEnergy customers to pay $204 million annually to the company over the next three to five years in order to benefit FirstEnergy Corp and its shareholders.
FirstEnergy’s initial bailout request, first proposed in 2014, would have forced captive utility customers to ensure the profitability of the financially challenged W.H. Sammis coal plant and Davis Besse nuclear plant, which are owned by an affiliate of FirstEnergy Corp. After the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission raised serious questions about that bailout, FirstEnergy submitted a new proposal to force captive customers to prop up the credit rating of FirstEnergy’s corporate parent. The PUCO today affirmed its approval of a modified version of that proposal.
Sierra Club, represented by Earthjustice, plans to appeal the decision to the Ohio Supreme Court as both contrary to Ohio law and not in the best interest of FirstEnergy’s customers
“There is simply no basis in Ohio law to force utility customers to pay for a slush fund for FirstEnergy Corp and its shareholders,” said Shannon Fisk, Managing Attorney at Earthjustice. “Given that the PUCO did not fulfill its duty to protect customers from FirstEnergy’s seemingly unending requests for bailouts, we will take our case to the Ohio Supreme Court.”
“We are very disappointed in the Commission’s continued unwillingness to shield customers from FirstEnergy’s poor business decisions. The PUCO has missed yet another opportunity to focus the company on real efforts to modernize our electric grid and invest in new, clean energy technologies and instead has forced customers to pay up for unwise investments in outdated coal and nuclear plants,” said Dan Sawmiller, Senior Campaign Representative for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “FirstEnergy has an insatiable appetite for money and the PUCO failed to protect customers in today’s ruling. There has been no showing that this plan will benefit customers and we will be taking our arguments to the Supreme Court.”