Environmental activists say Ohio utility regulators could halt fees for two coal-fired plants
Environmental activists is calling on the state’s utility regulators to take an action they said is allowed under the nuclear power plant bailout law that they opposed.
The Sierra Club, the Ohio Environmental Council, Utilities for All and the Ohio Poor People’s Campaign say the bailout law gives public utilities commissioners the power to order utilities to stop collecting cost recovery fees connected to two coal-fired power plants. Those fees are expected to go through 2030.
The two plants are operated by the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation, which is owned in part by a FirstEnergy subsidiary. The plans are in Gallia County and in Madison, Indiana.
Molly McKenzie Nichols with the Sierra Club said all ratepayers were required to pay those fees under the House Bill 6 bailout. But that law also required audits on whether the plants were being run efficiently or if customers were overcharged.
“If the costs of running the coal plant were not prudently incurred – that's the language the PUCO could determine, these costs are imprudent. Therefore we can't continue to charge them to customers," Nichols said.
Customers are now getting small credits - only a few cents a month. But Nichols said it could be more.
"This is part of a bigger push for more accountability from the PUCO and that they are in a position to limit these charges that are on our bills every month. Utilities are going up, rates are skyrocketing," Nichols said. "This is something they could have control over to limit the bills we're paying every month."
A group of activists gathered in the lobby of the Columbus building housing the Public Utilities Commission, and then went to the commission's meeting to drop off postcards asking for them to take this action.
The case is still pending, so a PUCO spokesman said no one can comment.