FirstEnergy ‘bailout’ hearing in Ohio starts Monday
FirstEnergy’s plan to make all of its Ohio utility customers essentially guarantee sales for certain coal and nuclear plants owned by its unregulated generation subsidiary is an even worse deal for consumers now than when FirstEnergy filed that proposal a year ago, say environmental advocates.
FirstEnergy acknowledges that customers will pay more in for the first few years, but claims that the proposed power purchase agreement (PPA) will save customers $2 billion over its 15-year term.
The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel has said the plan will more likely cost ratepayers $3 billion over that period. Environmental advocates say it’s even more unwise to bet on a rising market for coal after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s issuance of the final Clean Power Plan rules earlier this month.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) begins its evidentiary hearing in the case this coming Monday, August 31.
A 15-year contract
Under the proposed plan, FirstEnergy’s Ohio utilities would buy all energy produced by FirstEnergy Solutions (FES) at the Davis-Besse nuclear plant in Oak Harbor and the Sammis coal plant in Stratton, Ohio, as well as FES’s entire share of energy produced at two 1950s-era coal-fired plants owned by the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation.
“Essentially our utilities will buy the output of certain power plants and then sell that power into the marketplace,” explained FirstEnergy spokesperson Doug Colafella. “Depending on how those power plants perform in the market, customers will either see a charge on their bill or a credit on their bill.”