PUCO adopts settlement agreement in AEP Ohio electric security plan

Ohio Public Utilities Commission

COLUMBUS, OHIO (April 25, 2018) – The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) today adopted a settlement agreement to establish an electric security plan (ESP) for AEP Ohio through May 31, 2024.

“Today’s order establishes long-term regulatory stability for AEP Ohio and its customers, as the rate plan extends into 2024” stated PUCO Chairman Asim Z. Haque. “Our decision provides for continued investment in reliable power delivery while also spurring innovation through its support of the Smart City Columbus project. This mix of old and new, which arose from a nearly unanimously unopposed settlement stipulation, continues to strengthen the grid while also taking advantage of innovation.”

The agreement continues to use a competitive bidding process to establish default generation rates for AEP Ohio’s customers who have not elected to receive service from a competitive supplier.

The Commission modified the settlement to remove an obligation for AEP Ohio to file a specific rate design proposal in its next distribution rate case that would increase the utility’s fixed customer charge. In doing so, the Commission noted it is instead examining all of Ohio’s electric distribution utilities’ rate designs through its PowerForward initiative.

AEP Ohio will pursue two programs throughout its territory related to the Smart City Columbus project. AEP Ohio will administer a $10 million rebate program for electric vehicle charging stations. The company will make rebates available to qualifying public, government, workplace and multi-unit residences, with a portion reserved for low-income areas. AEP Ohio will also pursue microgrid projects with non-profit or public-serving customers. AEP Ohio will collect up to $10.5 million during the term of the ESP for the microgrid projects.

The agreement allows AEP Ohio to continue to recover its incremental costs from annual upgrades to its distribution infrastructure and vegetation management program until the utility files a new distribution rate case. AEP Ohio will be required to file a distribution rate case with the PUCO by June 1, 2020.

AEP Ohio will also continue to fund its low-income Neighbor-to-Neighbor bill assistance until new rates are effective following the distribution rate case.

Case Background

On May 13, 2016, AEP Ohio filed an application to extend and modify its current electric security plan through May 31, 2024. AEP Ohio amended its application on Nov. 23, 2016.

On Aug. 25, 2017, a settlement agreement intended to resolve their positions in the case was reached by AEP Ohio, PUCO staff, Ohio Energy Group, Ohio Hospital Association, Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy, Electric Vehicle Charging Association, Ohio Manufacturers’ Association Energy Group, IGS, Ohio Environmental Council, Environmental Defense Fund, Retail Energy Supply Association, National Resource Defense Council, Sierra Club, Industrial Energy Users – Ohio, and Constellation NewEnergy.

The PUCO held local public hearings to allow AEP Ohio customers to offer testimony regarding the company’s application. Hearings were held in Bucyrus, Marietta and Columbus in April 2017, and an additional hearing in Columbus in February 2018. An evidentiary hearing also occurred in November 2017.

A copy of today’s Commission opinion and order is available at www.PUCO.ohio.gov. Click on the link to the Docketing Information System and enter the case number 16-1852-EL-SSO.

PUCO establishes interim rates for Youngstown Thermal

COLUMBUS, OHIO (April 25, 2018) – The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) today approved a request from Youngstown Thermal to implement interim rates for heating and cooling services.

The new rates replace the current usage based charges with a fixed monthly customer charge and usage based rates. The rates enacted today allow Youngstown Thermal the opportunity to recover a monthly budget amount and be less dependent on seasonal usage.

Youngstown Thermal’s new rates are effective immediately, and the utility is directed to notify its customers within 30 days

The Commission also noted that interim rates are not a permanent solution, and recognized the receiver should be in the process of preparing to file a distribution rate case with the PUCO to establish long-term rates.

Case background

On June 30, 2017, the Commission issued a finding and order concluding Youngstown Thermal could not ensure adequate service to its customers and was in imminent danger of insolvency, and sought the appointment of a receiver to ensure continued delivery of utility services to Youngstown Thermal’s customers.

On Aug. 1, 2017, the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas placed Youngstown Thermal into receivership.

On Aug. 2, 2017, the Commission ordered an emergency surcharge to be in place to ensure Youngstown Thermal’s ability to provide continued service to downtown Youngstown.

On Dec. 20, 2017, the Commission suspended the collection of the emergency surcharge at the request of the receiver.

On April 11, 2018, the receiver filed proposed tariffs with the PUCO to adjust Youngstown Thermal’s rates to include both usage based and a fixed customer charge.

A copy of today’s Commission find and order is available on the PUCO website at www.PUCO.ohio.gov. Click on the link to the Docketing Information System and enter case 17-1534-HC-UNC in the search field.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is the sole agency charged with regulating public utility service. The role of the PUCO is to assure all residential, business and industrial consumers have access to adequate, safe and reliable utility services at fair prices while facilitating an environment that provides competitive choices. Consumers with utility-related questions or concerns can call the PUCO Call Center at (800) 686-PUCO (7826) and speak with a representative.


Ohio Public Utilities Commission