AES Ohio negotiating on distribution rate increase that will impact local home owners, businesses

AES held a ribbon cutting on it's newly renovated, Smart Operations Center,  Monday October 25, 2021. AES spent $20 million to renovate the old Dayton Power & Light building and move AES into the future. JIM NOELKER/STAFF
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AES held a ribbon cutting on it's newly renovated, Smart Operations Center, Monday October 25, 2021. AES spent $20 million to renovate the old Dayton Power & Light building and move AES into the future. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Dayton-area electric utility AES Ohio is negotiating with interested parties on its proposed increase in distribution rates.

With negotiations ongoing, a Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) evidentiary hearing on the requested rate increase was continued from Tuesday until 10 am Jan. 5, PUCO spokesman Matt Schilling said.

“The parties asked to move the hearing and indicated they were engaging in settlement talks,” Schilling said.

Such talks can be an avenue to resolving objections to higher electric rates.

It’s the second continuance for the hearing, which had originally been scheduled for October.

“There could be several types (of agreement),” Schilling said. “You could get every single party to sign on, everyone to agree to a single set of terms. But you might actually get one or two or three or four of them (of the interested parties) to settle.”

He added; “Every who signs on to it, it would resolve their issues.”

Even after a settlement with most parties, it’s possible some opposition to higher rates may remain, Schilling also said.

A representative of the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, which has opposed any increase of distribution rates for the former Dayton Power & Light, said the office is a participant in talks but declined further comment.

“We cannot discuss those settlement talks,” AES Ohio spokeswoman Mary Ann Kabel said Tuesday. “The continuing of the hearing is a procedural step to allow time for confidential settlement negotiations.”

Schilling could not say who is participating in the talks, but the Ohio Manufacturers Association Energy Group, Walmart Inc., the University of Dayton, Kroger, the Retail Energy Supply Association, Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy, the Ohio Hospital Association and others have either filed documents in the case or are listed in the PUCO case docket as parties of record, indicating a level of interest.

The increase first sought by AES Ohio would have amounted to a 14.3% increase in customer bills.

However, PUCO staff last summer recommended reducing the annual revenue requested by nearly half — from $120 million to a range between $61.1 million and $66.6 million.

If the commission passes what PUCO staff has recommended, a customer using 750 kilowatt-hours a month would see a 5.47% increase in their bill.

The utility has said it has the lowest residential rates across Ohio’s investor-owned utilities and among the lowest residential rates in the country.

AES Ohio serves more than 527,000 customer accounts, representing 1.25 million people in West Central Ohio.

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