The Latest: Opponent says feds won’t let energy deals stand


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Latest on the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio’s actions Thursday regarding rate deals proposed by FirstEnergy and American Electric Power (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

The Environmental Defense Fund says it is confident that federal regulators and the courts will not let agreements raising rates on Ohio electricity customers stand.

In a statement Thursday, the national group said the deals “keep outdated, inefficient power plants afloat for the next eight years at an estimated cost of $6 billion to Ohio customers.”

Public Utilities Commission of Ohio unanimously passed the power purchase agreements for Akron-based FirstEnergy and Columbus-based AEP Thursday.

Chairman Andre Porter said in remarks ahead of the vote that the deals were amended to stabilize customer bills and ensure the end result is in the best interests of customers.

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2 p.m.

Regulators have approved a pair of deals that allow FirstEnergy and AEP to impose short-term rate increases on electricity customers in Ohio to subsidize some older coal-fired and nuclear power plants.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio unanimously passed the power purchase agreements for Akron-based FirstEnergy and Columbus-based AEP Thursday. Opponents are likely to challenge the decisions.

The companies submitted the latest versions of their plans to the commission in December.

The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, representing ratepayers, projected it will cost customers an extra $5.9 billion over eight years. FirstEnergy estimates the average monthly electric bill will increase $3.25 the first year, but later rebates will total $560 million.

The deals also includes charges for distribution services, energy efficiency and a smart grid.

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This story has been corrected to reflect that $5.9 billion, not $3.9 billion, was the estimated combined cost of the deals to consumers.

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1 a.m.

Votes are nearing on two closely watched energy deals in Ohio that have drawn national attention from consumer, business, energy and environmental groups.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is scheduled to take up power purchase agreements submitted separately by Akron-based FirstEnergy and Columbus-based AEP at its meeting Thursday.

The power companies are asking regulators to permit rate increases and profit guarantees over the next eight years to cover operational costs at certain aging coal-fired and nuclear plants, modernize the power grid and transition to cleaner energy sources.

Critics call the plans bailouts. The companies say they protect jobs and efficient, reliable energy sources.

The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel estimates the settlements would cost consumers $5.9 billion combined over the duration — $3.9 billion for FirstEnergy and $2 billion for AEP.