Is the Public Utilities Commission just a big ATM?

FirstEnergy wants $3 billion of our money,
no questions asked.

ATMFirstEnergy lobbyists are down in Columbus now, demanding that the Ohio Public Utilities Commission approve -- in advance -- over $3 billion in overcharges to their customers through 2008.

In 1995 when the company filed for a $119 million rate increase, the Commission gave it their usual full rate review -- taking more than nine months -- including time to investigate it, ask questions, collect evidence, hold public hearings, analyze the information, produce a staff report, and decide.

This case is at least 30 times bigger, yet last fall, the Commission suddenly scrapped their process and plans to decide it within weeks, instead of the usual nine months.

There are plenty of questions to ask

  • How much could rates increase? How would any additional charges be justified?

  • What would be the consequences of pulling $3 billion out of the economy of northern Ohio and the budgets of northern Ohioans? Other than the deregulation case, this is the biggest rate case in Ohio history.

  • How much has FirstEnergy already collected from consumers in special charges? How much will be collected by 2006? So far, the company refuses to say.

  • What is the big rush? The rates won’t go into effect until 2006.

  • Why does the Public Utilities Commission plan to decide before a new Consumers’ Counsel is appointed? What are they afraid the new Counsel will find out?

  • Why has FirstEnergy given the Commission only the skeleton of a rate case, leaving the door open for various rate increases that are not quantified?
This is the biggest economic issue facing Ohio.

There’s plenty of time to do the job right.

Every state official and every northern Ohio state legislator should oppose this breakneck schedule.

Of the three state officials who will be running for Governor when the new rates go into effect, Attorney General Jim Petro has already said he would not speak out.

We still need to hear from Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, and State Auditor Betty Montgomery.

Please email them right now.