Ohio PUC Gets Serious About Rates – Rejects AEP Plan to Hurt Business and Jobs in Ohio

Largely as a result of protests lodged by Ohio business owners, the Ohio Public Utilities Commission rejected AEP’s latest 40% rate increase plan, and rolled Ohio rates back to December 2011 levels.  Keryn picked up this great link in a post she did yesterday on the threat to jobs of WV’s rising electric rates.

Here is the link to the Columbus Dispatch article on the PUCO rate roll back.  PUCO and AEP have been in a back and forth discussion of the company’s rate increases for several months.  PUCO had given preliminary approval to AEP’s 40% rate increase, but yesterday, the Utilities Commission just said no to AEP’s plan.  Here’s why:

Board members said they were not aware that the plan would lead to such dramatic increases for certain types of customers. Among the hardest hit were small businesses, churches, schools and all-electric houses, who say their overall electricity costs rise by 40 percent in some cases.

And:

The Dispatch reported before the rates were approved in December that small businesses were facing substantial increases. The story included internal emails from a top PUCO staff member who warned that the rates were not fair and would outrage customers.

PUCO initially approved AEP’s radical rate increases until Ohio’s rate payers, primarily small business owners and workers, expressed their “outrage” over AEP’s arrogance and PUCO’s failure to protect Ohio jobs.

Small-business owners are applauding the decision.

“We’re glad that, as a collective of small businesses, the commission has heard us,” said Chad McCoury, owner of J. Gumbo’s restaurant Downtown.

Protest over the rates was led by small business owners and workers, who were responsible for about 40 percent of the 1,018 complaints the PUCO had received as of yesterday.

PUCO initially didn’t want to take this step to prevent job loss in Ohio.  Only quick and angry protests by active citizens and business people forced PUCO to stop the outrageous rate increase.  To give PUCO credit, they voted unanimously to stop AEP.

And if you don’t think clear and forceful action by regulators doesn’t make a difference to power companies, here is the money quote from the Dispatch story:

The company’s [AEP’s] shares were down 4 percent in afternoon trading.

Ouch.

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