Selected category: Ohio

Debunking Silly Arguments for Utility Protectionism

2008_Weak_&_Strong_Arguments_BRYANS.jpegOhio utilities FirstEnergy and AEP, as readers of this blog know too well, want the Buckeye State to bail out their uneconomic power plants. Combined, their proposals before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) would run Ohioans nearly $6 billion in increased costs. We understand where the companies’ greedy desire for subsidies comes from, but the arguments for them have become downright silly.

Let’s review why FirstEnergy and AEP’s bailout justifications don’t hold up: Read More »

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Why this Utility Giant's $4-billion Coal Bailout is an Ill-Fated Energy Strategy

Clean energy investments are soaring worldwide, and the United States is no exception with $56 billion going toward renewable generation in 2015, an 8-percent increase over the year before.

So why are some utilities going against this trend – and risking a contest against more progressive competitors that are gaining market share at their expense?

To understand why, it helps to have a closer look at Ohio-based FirstEnergy, a large investor-owned energy company with operations in six states that has become the poster child for resistant utilities.

The FirstEnergy case also illustrates why companies that refuse change won’t be able to stop the rising clean energy tide, no matter how hard they try. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, FirstEnergy, Utility Business Models| Leave a comment

The Business Case against FirstEnergy’s Bailout

Team of business people working together on a laptop

Reading testimony filed before any public utility commission can be a mind-numbing exercise. Comments often are filled with jargon, acronyms, and other elements indecipherable to an outsider.

But when it comes to recent remarks from Ohio corporations about FirstEnergy’s proposed bailout, which would prop up its outdated power plants for the next eight years, the filings are clear – and damning. The business community sees right through the unfair deal. Read More »

Also posted in FirstEnergy| Comments are closed

FirstEnergy’s Bailout Isn’t Just Bad Policy – It’s Illegal

Gavel_iStock000003633182MediumLast week, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) staff endorsed a four billion dollar bailout for FirstEnergy’s coal and nuclear plants. The new deal modifies FirstEnergy’s original proposal and, if approved, would prop up the Akron-based utility giant’s uneconomic power plants for the next eight years – making its customers foot the huge bill. Many parties oppose the deal, because it is unfair to customers and interferes with the state’s competitive energy market.

Importantly, FirstEnergy’s bailout is not only bad policy, it also violates federal law.

Ohio restructured its electricity market several years ago, so FirstEnergy’s plants have been operating in a competitive wholesale energy market. The market covers 13 states and power plants bid into an auction to supply electricity to the region, ensuring customers get the lowest electricity prices possible FirstEnergy’s power plants are losing money because they are old and inefficient, and can’t compete with newer, cleaner natural gas and renewable energy that deliver electricity at a lower cost. As a result, FirstEnergy has asked the PUCO for a bailout.

But electricity is sold across several states in the wholesale market, and so is subject to federal law. And federal law bars states from erecting protectionist barriers that harm competition. Read More »

Also posted in FirstEnergy| Comments are closed

FirstEnergy Sought a Bailout. Ohio Regulators are Simply Selling Out.

dv067014Remember when we commended the Public Utility Commission of Ohio (PUCO) staff for looking out for Ohioans’ best interests and taking a reasonable stance against FirstEnergy’s $3-billion bailout request?

We take it all back.

It looks like the staff has taken a big gulp of FirstEnergy’s flip-flopping Kool-Aid.

The Akron-based utility giant has been trying to convince the PUCO to prop up its uneconomic power plants for the next 15 years, essentially saddling Ohioans with the cost of FirstEnergy’s poor investments. The PUCO is comprised of the staff – policy and regulatory experts – and the Commission itself, five Commissioners appointed by the Governor who ultimately will make the decision on whether to approve the bailout. Initially, the PUCO staff appeared to see right through FirstEnergy’s cheap trick and recommended the Commission reject the deal.

But last week – despite the previous objection to the subsidy plea – the PUCO staff embraced a backroom deal with FirstEnergy that gives the company even more than it wanted, presenting the utility with an incredible gift just in time for the holidays. This is a disappointing and shocking move that represents a reversal on Ohio’s decade-long commitment to competition in electricity markets. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, FirstEnergy| Read 2 Responses

FirstEnergy’s Consistency – or Lack Thereof

carbon-895671_640 pixabayThe list of things FirstEnergy isn’t good at continues to grow. First it was transparency. Then accuracy. Now it’s time to add consistency to the list.

You’ll recall that Ohio-based utility FirstEnergy is asking the Public Utility Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to grant it a $3-billion bailout in order to keep operating uneconomic power plants. Years earlier, FirstEnergy spoke out in favor of deregulation – and the competition it enabled – and against government support. But the bailout request represents a complete reversal for the utility giant.

De-regulate, no, re-regulate

Back in 2007, FirstEnergy’s CEO regaled about the wonders of deregulation and competition. In testimony before the Ohio legislature, he declared,

Competition drives innovation, a desire to succeed, efforts to improve productivity, and lower prices. This basic reality applies to today’s electricity markets – and it should remain a driving force for our business and industry in the years ahead.”

Maybe he didn’t mean the eight years between his testimony and the company’s current efforts to restrict competition. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, FirstEnergy| Comments are closed
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