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Environment

Opponents, Utilities React To Federal Regulators' Blocking Of Rate Hike Deals

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Karen Kasler
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The Public Utilities Commission voted to approve the power purchase agreements for AEP and FirstEnergy last month.

Federal regulators have blocked Akron-based FirstEnergy and Columbus-based American Electric Power from imposing controversial short-term rate increases on customers to bring in money for struggling coal and nuclear plants - deals the companies said were essential to market stability but critics said were "bailouts".

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says the deals that state regulators approved last month for FirstEnergy and AEP aren’t valid unless they get federal approval. Among those celebrating is Todd Snitchler, who’s with a group of electricity generators that opposed the utilities plans. “They’re not happy with the returns that they’re getting, despite the fact that both companies reported significant corporate earnings in the first quarter and want to re-regulate to guarantee those earnings rather than compete. And ratepayers will lose," Snitchler said.

But AEP’s Terri Flora says the company stands behind its plan: “We believe it would survive FERC review, but we’re not interested in participating in what would be a very drawn out review process.”

AEP and FirstEnergy both say they’re evaluating their options.

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