Comparison of PUCO rate case schedules:
A normal rate case and FirstEnergy's $3 billion rate case

Activity Normal case FirstEnergy case
Amount of request Rate cases usually affect average residential electric bills by a few dollars per month First Energy rate case would affect average residential rates by twenty to thirty dollars per month
Actions by utility 30 days notice of intent filed before filing rate request, case usually takes nine months at PUCO FirstEnergy filed no notice of intent, but filed actual rate request on October 21, 2003 and asked PUCO for final decision by December 31, 2003.
Actions by PUCO Over a period of at least 275 days (nine months), PUCO takes the following steps:
  • Detailed staff report (includes analysis of financial information, usually takes approximately 6 - 7 months to research and prepare)
  • Intervening partners do discovery throughout case
  • PUCO holds public hearings after staff report is issued
  • PUCO holds evidentiary hearings after staff report is issued
  • PUCO deliberates and issues final decision
After objections by some intervenors to FirstEnergy's request for decision in 60 days, PUCO now plans to finalize decision as early as March 2004 (approximately five months after request was filed). Steps include the following:
  • PUCO did not do a detailed staff report, but instead filed "staff testimony" on public
  • policy issues in January 2004, and did not include financial analysis .
  • Intervening partners have half of usual time for discovery
  • Public hearings were held before staff testimony was issued
  • Evidentiary hearings are scheduled for February 11, 2004
  • PUCO will deliberate with decision expected as early as March 2004
Actions by Consumers' Counsel Consumers' Counsel is in office and intervenes in the case on behalf of residential customers Consumers'' Counsel office is vacant -- new Consumers' Counsel will not be appointed until after FirstEnergy case is decided. "Acting" Counsel has intervened in the case.
Public involvement Public hearings occur 1 -3 months after PUCO issues detailed staff report Public hearings were held in November 2003, before any staff analysis was completed, and one month after FirstEnergy filed its rate request. No further public hearings are planned.
Rate hike goes into effect Within several weeks after conclusion of case If approved, will not go into effect until 2006, almost two years after case is now scheduled to be decided.

Chart prepared by Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director, and Shari Weir, Cleveland Program Director, Ohio Citizen Action, january 23, 2004.