OCC and NOPEC Advocate for Record $306 Million in Consumer Refunds

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Nov. 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Consumer advocacy by the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC) and the Northeast Ohio Public…

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Nov. 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Consumer advocacy by the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC) and the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC) has led to a major settlement of cases at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) involving the FirstEnergy utilities. Today’s settlement of the high-stakes dispute involves whether the FirstEnergy utilities charged consumers too much for profits and, if so, how much.

Under the settlement, FirstEnergy will refund $306 million via bill credits to consumers through 2025, pending PUCO approval. The average FirstEnergy residential customer will receive $85.71 over the next five years as credits on their electric bills as follows:

  • $96 million (for FirstEnergy profits overcharges from 2017 to 2019) will be refunded within 30 days of a PUCO approval of the settlement. Residential consumers will receive a lump-sum payment of about $26.91 on their electric bills; Non-residential consumers will receive $2.68 per mWh.

Starting in 2022, residential consumers will receive bill credits as follows:

  • $1.87 per month ($22.44 annually) per consumer (for $80 million in total will be credited in 2022, through a monthly bill credit).
  • $1.40 per month ($16.80 annually) per consumer (for $60 million in total will be credited in 2023, through a monthly bill credit).
  • $1.05 per month ($12.60 annually) per consumer (for $45 million in total will be credited in 2024, through a monthly bill credit).
  • $0.58 per month ($6.96 annually) per consumer (for $25 million in total will be credited in 2025, through a monthly bill credit).

The settlement involves profits cases under a 2008 utility ratemaking law known as Senate Bill 221, which requires refunds of charges for «significantly excessive» utility profits. Previously the most any electric utility was required to refund to consumers for «significantly excessive» profits was $43 million from AEP about a decade ago. The 2008 law limits electric utility refunds to «significantly excessive» profits and allows electric utilities to keep excessive profits.

«Today’s record refund is the culmination of OCC’s hard-fought efforts over several years to secure refunds for consumers regarding FirstEnergy’s high profits,» said Ohio Consumers’ Counsel Bruce Weston. «Last year, in an OCC appeal, the Ohio Supreme Court threw out a PUCO decision shielding FirstEnergy from refunding profits. Consumers are to get $306 million of justice. We hope it’s a trend,» Weston added.

«As Ohio’s largest non-profit retail energy aggregator, we consider advocacy to be an important cornerstone of NOPEC’s core mission to protect consumers against unfair, excessive charges,» said NOPEC Executive Director Chuck Keiper. «Our partnership with the OCC in this mission has yielded yet another meaningful win for Ohio ratepayers. This massive settlement is a tremendous victory for NOPEC’s half a million electric customers that rightfully puts money back into their pockets and holds utilities accountable,» Keiper added.

About the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC)

NOPEC is Ohio’s largest non-profit energy supplier that provides competitive energy cost savings to residents and small businesses using a buy in bulk method. NOPEC negotiates for lower energy rates and better terms and conditions, educates residents and customers on how they can conserve energy and save even more on their energy bills and advocates for consumer-friendly energy legislation at both the state and federal level. Since 2001, NOPEC has saved Ohio consumers hundreds of millions of dollars on their energy costs. NOPEC has also awarded over $40 million in community energy-efficiency grants. For more information about NOPEC, visit https://www.nopec.org.

About the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC)

The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel is the state’s representative of millions of residential utility consumers, as the utility/PUCO watchdog. The state agency serves Ohio consumers in state and federal proceedings affecting their electric, natural gas, telephone, and water services. The agency also educates consumers about their utility services. For more information, please visit the agency’s website at www.occ.ohio.gov.

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SOURCE NOPEC