In response to more than 1,000 complaints filed about increased rates, including comment from Ohio Farm Bureau, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) has disapproved of American Electric Power’s (AEP) electric security plan (ESP) on Feb. 23, and has ordered that rates be returned to similar levels to those in place in December 2011.
The increased rates experienced were a result of a new ESP that started effective Jan.1. The PUCO had unanimously approved the new ESP just two months prior to its unanimous decision to now reject the new rates.
“Farms, small businesses and residential energy consumers, our key members, were some of the most impacted by the increased rates,” said Dale Arnold, director of energy policy for OFBF. “We had members with small businesses who saw warehouse electricity bills increase from $50 in December to $80 in January. Some dairy farms saw bill increases from $1,500 to $1,800.”
Having been involved in energy policy for many years, Ohio Farm Bureau has worked with government leaders, utilities and energy service providers to support passage of legislation that created a regulatory framework that could be used in a case like this.
The framework is a set of rules so that if a tremendous amount of rate increases occur and customers have problems with the new ESP, the plan could be withdrawn and the earlier plan would be reinstated, or reset.
In comments submitted to the PUCO, Ohio Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Jack Fisher said, “The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation respectfully urges that the Commission employ the current regulatory framework and respectfully recommends that AEP withdraw its energy security plan put into effect in January 2012. In its place, the previous energy security plan approved by the commission in 2009 should continue to be in effect.”
In a press release, the PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler said, “Our decision effectively hits the reset button on AEP’s electric security plan, allows us to start over from the beginning, ensure that we have a complete picture of any proposal and balance the interest of all customers and the utility. Ohio remains committed to continuing down the path toward fully competitive markets.”
Read The Columbus Dispatch coverage of OFBF involvement in the PUCO decision