Consumer advocates ask state to halt DP&L charge

The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel is trying to stop a Dayton Power & Light (DP&L) charge or make it subject to a refund.

And according to this office, the charge has cost DP&L customers about $175 million so far.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) has sought opinions about whether a recent Ohio Supreme Court decision striking down another utility’s “distribution modernization” charge also applies to a similar charge the PUCO has allowed DP&L to collect from 519,000 electric customers across Southwestern and Central Ohio.

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The counsel’s office holds that the name of the charge is misleading because the PUCO does not require DP&L to spend money collected from the charge on modernizing its power distribution grid.

The charge costs $8.64 a month for residential consumers using 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity monthly. A medium-sized window air conditioner using 1,000 watts an hour is equivalent to one kilowatt hour or kWh. A 100-watt light bulb used for 10 hours equals one kWh.

DP&L consumers have paid the charge since 2017.

"The PUCO should not repeat the recent travesty of justice for consumers regarding FirstEnergy's nearly identical charge that the Supreme Court found to be unlawful," the consumers' office said in its filing before the PUCO. "There, FirstEnergy walked away with nearly a half-billion dollars of improper, so-called distribution modernization charges. FirstEnergy didn't have to refund its charges to consumers, because the PUCO declined to make the charges subject to refund."

In a recent filing, the consumers’ office argued the similar DP&L charge is unlawful and should be stopped immediately.

In January, DP&L asked the PUCO to extend the disputed charge — called a “distribution modernization charge” or rider — until 2022 and allow it to be nearly doubled to $18.31 a month (based on 1000 kWh usage) for residential consumers.

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According to the OCC, DP&L customers have already paid about $175 million for the charge, or about $8.75 million a month since November 1, 2017. )

Questions were left with a PUCO representative. An email with questions was sent to a DP&L spokeswoman last week.

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