House-Senate conference strikes electric rate-raising law

The Dayton Power & Light J.M. Stuart power-generating station on the Ohio River. CONTRIBUTED.
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The Dayton Power & Light J.M. Stuart power-generating station on the Ohio River. CONTRIBUTED.

Ohio manufacturers and a consumers group are praising a decision by legislators to strike from the new Ohio budget a provision that would have allowed electric rates to be raised to boost utilities’ credit-worthiness.

The Ohio Manufacturers Association, which represents state manufacturers, praised a House-Senate joint conference committee for “recognizing that enabling Ohio’s electric utilities to raise customers’ electric rates to bolster the utilities’ credit ratings is bad public policy,” the association said in a statement.

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The provision — which was removed in the final hours before passage of the new budget Wednesday — was also opposed by AARP (the American Association of Retired Persons), the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the Ohio Chemistry Technology Council.

In a letter sent to the conference committee, those organizations argued that the provision “reverses rulings of the Ohio Supreme Court, that last year overturned PUCO decisions allowing utility charges to customers for financial stability.”

The PUCO (the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio) works with electric utilities to decide on rate levels. A spokesman for the PUCO declined to comment Thursday.

“Eliminating this provision from the budget bill will thwart the utilities’ latest ploy to seek a financial bailout by their customers by shifting ordinary business risk from shareholders to ratepayers,” Eric Burkland, OMA president, said in a release.