Ohio Consumers’ Counsel opposed to AES Electric Security Plan settlement
AES Ohio has filed a settlement of its Electric Security Plan. The local utility said the security plan will help them make necessary investments to benefit customers but the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, a state agency that advocates for residential utility customers, said the plan would increase electric bills by as much as ten dollars a month and would use that money to subsidize failing coal plants.
An electric security plan lets utilities explain to regulators how they will make sure enough energy is available for its customers– it lays out how utilities plan to do things like modernize the grid. Big customers like Kroger and the City of Dayton, or advocacy groups like the Ohio Environmental Council, can also intervene and give their opinion on plans.
Part of the electric security plan process includes the utility asking the state how much it is allowed to charge customers. The plan settlement filed by AES this month was agreed upon by all parties in the case, including the City of Dayton, except for the OCC. Their spokesperson J.P. Blackwood said part of the reason they oppose the settlement is because it will increase electricity costs for residential consumers during a tough economic period.
"There's a lot of people in Dayton who are really struggling, every dollar in their budget has a name,” Blackwood said. “And when an extra dollar is going to electricity, that may mean one less dollar on the food or one less dollar going to rent or one less dollar buying their kids clothes for school."
AES Ohio has repeatedly cited their payment assistance programs when questioned about affordability.
Blackwood said his agency is urging the public to make their voices heard.
"This settlement is not a done deal. It has to be approved by thePUCO (Public Utilities Commission of Ohio), and they can amend it before they approve it,” he said. “So it's not over.”
Chris Welter is a reporter and corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms.