A state regulator has postponed a vote that could determine whether or not FirstEnergy customers will receive millions of dollars in rebates of renewable energy credit overcharges.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio had been scheduled to hear the case July 31 but delayed it until Aug. 7. The delay was needed to “fine tune” an order that will decide if FirstEnergy overpaid for renewable energy credits and passed the overcharges on to customers, PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler told the Associated Press.
The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates the overpayments could total as much as $96 million to $126 million.
American Electric Power – Ohio, a competitor of FirstEnergy, the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel and several environmental organizations are intervening in the case, arguing that FirstEnergy inflated the value of renewable energy credits it sold in the electric market.
“By putting off the decision to vote on this case today (July 31), the PUCO is putting the interests of one utility before the interests of hundreds of thousand of electric customers who potentially paid way more on their utility bill than they should have,” said Brian Kaiser, Director of Green Jobs & Innovation for the Ohio Environmental Council.
He said portions of audit reports compiled by PUCO staff who investigated the overpayment case were blocked from the public and consumer advocates when FirstEnergy claimed dollar amounts that were paid are confidential.
In 2008, Ohio enacted legislation that restructures the advanced energy and renewable energy generation and procurement requirements for the state's electric distribution utilities and electric service companies - except municipal utilities and electric cooperatives.
Under the new standard, utilities must provide 25 percent of their retail electricity supply from alternative energy resources by 2025, with specific annual benchmarks for renewable and solar energy resources
The annual benchmark obligations may be met through the purchase of qualified renewable energy credits, which are defined as the environmental benefits associated with one megawatt hour of electricity generated by a renewable energy resource.