Consumers’ office says AES Ohio electric customers are due $60M refund

In a recent flurry of legal filings before state regulators, the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel accused Dayton electric utility AES Ohio of unlawfully collecting a charge from local customers from August last year until June — for an alleged lack of a proper tariff filing.

The office argues that consumers, as a result, are due a $60 million refund.

“The strange reality is that DP&L has collected the stability charge from consumers since Aug. 11, 2021 without a lawful PUCO (Public Utilities Commission of Ohio) tariff,” the office (OCC) says in one filing.

ExploreWhy is electricity so expensive right now? It’s complicated

Tariffs govern how much electric or natural gas companies can charge customers

The office, which represents state electric customers, is asking state regulators to order AES Ohio — also known in legal matters as Dayton Power and Light or “DP&L” — to return to consumers “stability” charges “it collected without an authorized tariff” since August 2021.

“The PUCO should order DP&L to return $60 million in one lump-sum bill credit on consumers’ bills,” the office said in a July 15 filing.

AES Ohio has charged customers $76 million a year under its “stability” charge, according to the consumers’ office.

The OCC has asked the Supreme Court to find that charge unlawful. Last year, the PUCO ordered AES Ohio “to file new proposed tariffs,” with new refund language, if the charge was in fact found unlawful. But the OCC argues that “DP&L failed to file its final stability charge tariffs with consumer refund language as the PUCO ordered.”

It’s the office’s position that DP&L was only authorized to collect its stability charge under the condition that the PUCO’s newly required refund language appeared in DP&L’s approved tariff.

An AES Ohio representative disagrees, saying the company has complied with regulatory orders.

The utility maintains that neither state regulators nor courts have ruled that any of the rates collected by AES Ohio since August 2021 are subject to refund.

“OCC has not demonstrated any bad faith or injury to customers to justify such sanctions,” said AES Ohio spokeswoman Mary Ann Kabel.

“AES Ohio recognizes the importance of complying with commission (PUCO) orders and the need to maintain final versions of its tariffs in all required dockets,” the utility said in a July 25 filing. “AES Ohio further stresses that it did not, and would not, deliberately disobey or disregard an order of the commission.”

However, OCC seized on one statement in a recent AES Ohio filing, in which the utility said it would “not object to any clarification by the commission on rehearing” about the disputed tariff.

A PUCO spokesman said the OCC’s request for a new hearing on the issue is pending before the commission. “I cannot speculate how the commission will rule on it,” spokesman Matt Schilling said.

No hearing on the matter appeared to be scheduled, as of early Tuesday.

About the Author