The DP&L command center building in Moraine. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Long after approval, a DP&L charge remains hotly contested

Even though an “electric security plan” for Dayton Power & Light (DP&L) was approved 18 months ago, the plan is still being litigated before state regulators today because one facet of the plan, a monthly charge, remains opposed.

IGS, Interstate Gas Supply, withdrew from a settlement approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) in October 2017, a plan meant to govern how much DP&L can charge customers until Oct. 31, 2023.

RELATED: Bankruptcy could upend DP&L-industry power plant pact

IGS opposes a PUCO modification to the plan that imposes a reconciliation rider — a charge meant to cover the operation of decades-old coal plants operated under the Ohio Valley Electric Corp. — on all consumers.

OVEC is a cooperative corporation which includes DP&L, AEP, Duke, and FirstEnergy Solutions, among others responsible for the joint operation of two 60-plus-year-old coal-fired power plants.

A hearing last week before the PUCO in Columbus focused on continued opposition to that charge.

RELATED: New DP&L plan raises rates, state agency says

According to a transcript of the hearing, on cross examination, Ross Willis, a regulatory analyst for the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, said: “We oppose the reconciliation rider because we believe it’s a — a subsidy to subsidize uneconomic 1950s coal plants, and it’s not in the best interest of consumers.”

In 2017, the PUCO modified the settlement, making the reconciliation charges non-bypassable, meaning everybody must pay the charge, which totals $9 million over the duration of DP&L’s electric security plan.

That amounts to about $8.12 a year for residential consumers who use an average of 1,000 kilowatt-hours a month, a typical measuring yardstick in energy circles.

Bruce Weston, who serves as the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, said his office continues to oppose the rider, calling it a “charge for consumers to subsidize coal power plants.”

“It’s a bailout, it’s a customer-funded subsidy for power plants that can’t succeed in the market on their own,” Weston told this news outlet in a statement. “We’re pro-competition, we’re anti-subsidy, anti-bailout. For consumer protection, the electric utilities’ subsidy culture should end.”

The office also opposes House Bill 6, which opponents see as subsidizing Lake Erie nuclear power plants operated by bankrupt FirstEnergy Solutions.

Mike Haugh, an expert witness for the consumers’ counsel’s office, testified against HB 6 Wednesday. He testified before the Ohio House Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy Generation.

“Subsidies disrupt markets and in turn harm Ohio customers,” Haugh said. “Since 1999, consumers have paid Ohio electric utilities over $15 billion in subsidies.”

Another opponent of House Bill 6: The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).

“Our position is simply this: any legislation that would impose a tax or surcharge paid by utility customers—including residential, commercial and industrial customers—would raise prices for your constituents while citizens of other states that receive power generated by Ohio’s nuclear plants pay lower rates for their electricity,” Barbara Sykes, AARP Ohio director said in an April 11 letter to House Speaker Larry Householder and others.

“That is patently unfair — why should Ohio customers supplement the electricity bills for those living in other states?” Sykes added.

Messages seeking comment were left Wednesday for representatives of DP&L and IGS.

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