Ohio Supreme Court closes the door on FirstEnergy’s illegal subsidies in a win for customers and the environment

EDF statement from John Finnigan, Lead Counsel, Energy Transition Strategy

August 20, 2019
Tracy Sabetta, (614)-581-2907, tsabetta@initiativeohio.com

(COLUMBUS, OH) The Ohio Supreme Court today rejected FirstEnergy’s motion for reconsideration of “credit support” charges approved by state regulators in 2016. The Supreme Court ordered the charge be removed, saying state regulators had failed to place the necessary conditions on how FirstEnergy spent the subsidies.

“Today’s Ohio Supreme Court ruling sets a precedent that will block state regulators from approving such orders in the future,” said John Finnigan, lead counsel for Environmental Defense Fund’s Energy Program. “This decision sends a clear message that FirstEnergy is not entitled to a blank check signed by Ohio consumers. Unfortunately, the ruling comes too late to impact the Ohio legislature’s short-sighted decision to pass House Bill 6, creating a brand-new bailout program for the same old power plants.”

For years, FirstEnergy has been seeking a bailout for its uneconomic plants. The Ohio-based utility finally got its wish in late 2016, when the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio approved more than $600 million in customer-funded subsidies.

With today’s decision, the Supreme Court issued the final denial of those customer funded subsidies and ordered they must be removed. In the three years’ time the appeals process has taken, FirstEnergy has collected nearly all of the $600 million it was seeking. Current law states that FirstEnergy gets to keep the $600 million rather than refund it to customers. Environmental Defense Fund and our partners have been working hard to change the refund law and today’s ruling should give added momentum to this effort.

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