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Ohio Consumers' Counsel pushes back on AES Ohio rate increase proposal

Transmission lines
Andy Chow
Ohio Public Radio
Transmission lines

AES Ohio consumers might see an increase in the cost of their electric bill. But the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel is pushing back on the utility’s proposal.

The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel estimates AES residential customers could pay about $40 more a year. That’s because AES Ohio is proposing an increase in its Transmission Cost Recovery Rider.

This fee allows the utility to recoup the cost of electricity transmission paid to the regional grid operator.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (or PUCO) staff filed a recommendation for AES Ohio’s application. A decision is anticipated later this month, according to the utility.

If the Public Utilities Commission approves the increase, the new rates would be effective June 1.

This updated cost reflects the increasing demand for electricity, AES Ohio spokesperson Mary Ann Kabel said.

“We're also replacing legacy transmission equipment, to reliably serve our customers. As that grows and that demand continues, we want to ensure our customers have safe, reliable power,” Kabel said.

But J.P. Blackwood from the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel said the increase might not be appropriate.

We carefully analyze these proposals to make sure that the utilities aren't overcharging consumers because we know consumers are hurting,” Blackwood said. “We know there's a lot of consumers who can't pay the bills at the price they are today, let alone, if there's another $40 a year.”

AES Ohio isn’t the only energy supplier pursuing a rate increase to make up for their transmission costs; AEP Ohio and First Energy’s three utilities made their own requests that were approved by the PUCO earlier this year.

The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel said it attributes the rise in these rates across utilities to supplemental transmission projects.

These are transmission enhancement or expansion projects meant to “address local reliability needs,” according to Ohio’s regional grid operator, PJM.

Blackwood said these projects aren’t regulated by any agency to make sure they’re necessary.

In September, the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel filed a complaint to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to step in and look at regulating supplemental transmission projects.

Adriana Martinez-Smiley (she/they) is the Environment and Indigenous Affairs Reporter for WYSO. They grew up in Hamilton, Ohio and graduated from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism in June 2023. Before joining WYSO, her work has been featured in NHPR, WBEZ and WTTW.

Email: amartinez-smiley@wyso.org
Cell phone: 937-342-2905