March 27, 2016

LETTER TO THE EDITOR-The Columbus Dispatch

Utility bailouts are a bad idea

Any day now, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio will make its decision on FirstEnergy and AEP’s bailout requests. The Ohio-based utility giants are trying to saddle Ohioans with the rising costs of their outdated power plants. 

Copyright 2016 The Columbus Dispatch

March 17, 2016

By Bradley H. Belden

OPINION-CantonRep.com

Belden: The PUCO should not gamble with Ohio's future

For the last several months, we have been learning more and more about the requests before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) for FirstEnergy and American Electric Power (AEP) to charge customers above-market rates for electricity generated by under-performing facilities. Experts estimate FirstEnergy and AEP customers will pay billions of dollars more over the eight-year life of the deal. That's not for electricity actually used; it's to subsidize their plants and guarantee profits for their shareholders.

Copyright 2016 CantonRep.com

March 11, 2016

LETTER TO THE EDITOR-The News Messenger

By Todd A. Snitchler

Customers should not subsidize FirstEnergy

Ottawa County Commissioners say they support FirstEnergy’s request for a rate hike because it will “stabilize” electric rates. Stabilization here means “higher costs.” FirstEnergy wants customers to subsidize electricity generated by some of its older plants, guaranteeing the company a 10.38 percent profit on energy generated by those plants. This is a blatant attempt to shift costs and risks away from shareholders and onto the backs of customers.

Copyright 2016 The News Messenger

February 26, 2016

OPINION-The Business Journal

By Todd A. Snitchler

Op-Ed: PUCO Should Short Circuit Utility Handouts

CLEVELAND – If FirstEnergy gets its way with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, just about every customer within its service area will pay more for electricity over the next eight years. That’s because FirstEnergy has a request before the PUCO to charge customers an added fee to subsidize electricity generated by the Davis-Besse nuclear plant in Ottawa County and the Sammis coal-fired plant in Jefferson County.

FirstEnergy says it can’t make sufficient profits on electricity generated at these facilities, so it wants the PUCO to guarantee above-market rates plus a 10.38 percent profit for power generated at these plants. This is a blatant attempt to shift the costs and risks away from shareholders and onto the backs of customers.

Copyright 2016 The Business Journal

February 9, 2016

OPINION-The Athens Messenger

By Todd A. Snitchler

AEP doesn’t need a bailout from customers

Ohio consumers should be up in arms over an effort by American Electric Power (AEP) to raise the cost of their electricity, regardless of how much they consume or whether AEP even generates their electricity. AEP says it is not making enough money on the power generated by some of its plants and wants the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to subsidize the plants over the next eight years at a cost to consumers of $1.9 billion.

Copyright 2016 The Athens Messenger

February 2, 2016

LETTER TO THE EDITOR-The Blade

FirstEnergy shouldn’t get subsidies

. . . According to the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, FirstEnergy’s plan will cost business and residential consumers $3.9 billion more over eight years.

PUCO should refuse FirstEnergy’s demand for subsidies. If this is approved, other businesses throughout our region will pay more for their electricity, which jeopardizes their ability to raise wages or hire employees. ...

Huck Hayes, Waterville

Copyright 2016 The Blade

January 24, 2016

OPINION-Cleveland.com | The Plain Dealer

By Chris Greulich, guest columnist

PUCO, say 'No' to backroom FirstEnergy deal

I'd like to weigh in on FirstEnergy Corp.'s request for a Power Purchase Agreement currently being considered by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. This proposal is a bad idea for everyone who uses electricity – except, perhaps, those who worked a backroom deal with FirstEnergy.

In a recent column on cleveland.com and in The Plain Dealer, Joseph Patrick Meissner argued that FirstEnergy's proposal will help those who struggle to pay their electric bills. But experts say consumers will pay more if the Power Purchase Agreement is approved – as much as $800 more each, on average, over the next eight years, according to the Ohio Consumers' Counsel. AARP Ohio estimates the increase at $10.50 per month – a significant amount for those on fixed incomes.

Chris Greulich is president of North Shore Energy Consulting.

Copyright 2016 The Plain Dealer

January 23, 2016

EDITORIAL-Akron Beacon Journal

By Michael Douglas, Beacon Journal editorial page editor

FirstEnergy just asks for too much

From afar, FirstEnergy makes more easily the villain. Up close, it gets more complicated, those of us in Akron, especially, aware of the many civic endeavors the power company supports, not to mention its 2,500 employees in Summit County, many at the headquarters downtown.

Are the good deeds just part of laying a veneer of corporate citizenship? That money for the levy campaigns of the Akron Public Schools has been real, crucial and substantial.

Copyright 2016 Akron Beacon Journal

January 17, 2016

EDITORIAL-Toledo Blade

Ohio should pull the plug on utility bailout

The rate hike proposed by FirstEnergy Corp. would guarantee profits on electricity generated at the Davis-Besse nuclear plant in Ottawa County and the Sammis coal-fired plant in Jefferson County. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is gathering testimony in the rate case and is expected to decide by March. Commissioners should say no. 

The plan is a raw deal for FirstEnergy’s ratepayers and the state’s environment. It would guarantee profits to the utility for outdated, inefficient plants, at a cost to consumers of $3.9 billion. And there’s no guarantee FirstEnergy will honor its commitments to reduce carbon pollution, invest in renewable energy, and promote energy efficiency.

Copyright 2016 The Blade

January 14, 2016

OPINION-Powermag.com

By Kenny Maize

Will Ohio Choose Re-regulation Over Competition?

There’s a word that best describes what’s going on with Ohio investor-owned utilities these days: “re-regulation.” The Buckeye State’s two largest IOUs, having lived in competitive power markets for some 20 years, have decided they prefer the good old days of guaranteed markets and regulated returns.

FirstEnergy, based in Akron, and American Electric Power, headquartered in Columbus, since 2014 have been pushing the state regulators to bail them out of competitive markets where their biggest assets – mostly nuclear for First Energy and large coal-fired generation for AEP – can’t compete against low-cost gas generation.

Copyright 2016 Power

January 11, 2016

OPINION-Akron Beacon Journal | Ohio.com

By Todd A. Snitchler

Pull The Plug On Utility Bailouts

With its proposal before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, FirstEnergy asks Ohio’s electricity consumers to guarantee revenues to the company for two outdated power plants, the Sammis coal-fired plant along the Ohio River in Jefferson County and the Davis-Besse nuclear plant on the shores of Lake Erie in Ottawa County. This proposal is designed for one purpose: to improve FirstEnergy’s bottom line at the expense of Ohio families and businesses who, according to the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, would pay as much as $3.9 billion more over eight years.

But there’s another critical reason why the PUCO should not grant subsidies to FirstEnergy or to American Electric Power, which has requested a similar deal. Subsidizing these companies would reward their poor decisions at a time when other companies are making significant investments in the state’s power generation capacity. Rather than asking for subsidies, these companies are demonstrating a commitment to Ohio by investing billions of dollars to replace or update outdated coal-burning plants.

Copyright 2016 Akron Beacon Journal | Ohio.com

January 10, 2016

OPINION-Crain’s Cleveland Business

By Todd A. Snitchler

Stopping the big power play

A Dec. 13 Crain’s editorial, “Pull the Plug,” pointed out many reasons why the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) should reject FirstEnergy’s request for guaranteed profits for two outdated plants, the Sammis coal-fired plant along the Ohio River in Jefferson County and the Davis Besse nuclear plant on the shores of Lake Erie in Ottawa County.

As you pointed out, this proposal — and a similar one submitted to the PUCO by American Electric Power (AEP) of Columbus — would force many of Ohio’s businesses and residential consumers to pay billions of dollars more for their electricity, just to subsidize the utilities’ bad investments and reliance on old, inefficient and unprofitable power plants. In addition, these proposals would turn the clock back to the old days when utilities were protected by monopolies.

Copyright 2016 Crain’s Cleveland Business

December 20, 2015

OPINION-Cleveland.com

By Thomas Suddes

Lobbyist-tilted playing field favors FirstEnergy and AEP in Columbus

Here, schematically, is a Capitol Square fight card: About 3.5 million Ohio customers of FirstEnergy Corp. and American Electric Power Co. versus roughly 30 top-shelf Statehouse lobbyists that the utilities employ in Columbus, some connected to Gov. John Kasich's administration like conjoined twins.

The stakes: A potential increase of $3.9 billion in the bills sent to FirstEnergy's Ohio customers, or, for customers of AEP's Ohio Power Co., a potential increase of $2 billion in their bills. The Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel, which represents utilities' residential ratepayers, made those estimates. (The Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council joined with the counsel in the FirstEnergy estimate.)

Copyright 2015 The Plain Dealer

December 14, 2015

OPINION-Forbes.com

By William Pentland

Did The Sierra Club Just Sell Out In Ohio Coal Fight?

Environmentalists have done more to promote competition in the electric power industry than free market ideologues.

This is not necessarily because environmentalists care about competition per se but rather because competition breeds transparency and transparency is good for the environment. In other words, “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman,” as the progressive Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis put it.

Given this history, I was surprised to learn that the Sierra Club had endorsed a proposal by the American Electric Power Company’s to subsidize a fleet of coal and nuclear power plants in Ohio.

Copyright 2015 Forbes.com

December 3, 2015

EDITORIAL-Toledo Blade

FirstEnergy’s bailout plan would guarantee profits
at the expense of ratepayers and the environment

The “energy security” bailout plan negotiated by FirstEnergy Corp. and the pliable staff of the Public Utility Commission of Ohio is a sweetheart deal for the Akron-based company, whose holdings include Toledo Edison. But it’s a raw deal for the utility’s ratepayers and the state’s environment. Instead of rubber-stamping the scheme, PUCO commissioners need to demand a better-balanced approach.

FirstEnergy wants as many as 1.9 million consumers in Ohio to pay more — about $3.25 a month more for the typical residential customer during the first year of the eight-year plan — so it can continue to operate its troubled Davis-Besse nuclear plant in Ottawa County and its aging Sammis coal-fired plant in northeast Ohio, and to buy power from coal-burning facilities in southeast Ohio and Indiana. The plan would move Ohio even farther away from, rather than toward, the clean-energy future it needs to embrace.

Copyright 2015 The Blade