DP&L charge to customers struck down by Ohio Supreme Court

Top court reverses PUCO on DP&L charge

The Ohio Supreme Court on Monday reversed a Public Utilities Commission of Ohio decision that allowed local utility Dayton Power & Light to charge customers extra in an “electric security plan.”

The move saves local consumers $80 million they would have paid the utility this year, according to the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, which appealed the PUCO decision along with the Industrial Energy Consumers of Ohio.

“Today’s decision by the Ohio Supreme Court — that DP&L should not have charged consumers above the market price of electricity — gives Ohioans a benefit of competitive markets for the future,” Ohio Consumers’ Counsel Bruce Weston said in a statement.

DP&L has already collected $250 million from customers under the plan, according to Weston. Customers will not see a refund in this amount because the Supreme Court does not allow retroactive refunds.

“The decision should spare consumers from paying up to $80 million to DP&L,” Weston said. “But it is unfortunate that consumers, with a poverty level of 35 percent in Dayton, already paid a quarter billion dollars to DP&L that they likely will not get back.”

The charge is about $5 a month for the average DP&L customer.

Messages seeking reaction were sent to a DP&L spokeswoman and a spokesman for the Industrial Energy Users of Ohio, a trade group that says it represents companies that spend $3 billion per year on electricity and natural gas and employ more than 250,000 people in Ohio.

Matt Schilling, a PUCO spokesman, said the commission is reviewing the ruling.

The utility had sought approval for the plan to shoulder changes in the market. With a new federal emphasis on “cleaner”-burning fuels, traditional coal-burning generation is expected to get more expensive for power companies.

Power utilities are increasingly expected to use an array of fuel sources — including coal, natural gas and “alternative” sources, like wind and solar. But there’s a price for that “diversity,” DP&L President and Chief Executive Tom Raga has said.

“There’s a small charge to keep reliability, keep the fuel diversity, since prices won’t be as volatile, it keeps price stability in there,” Raga told the Dayton Daily News in a February interview.

In reversing the ruling, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor with justices Paul Pfeifer, Terrence O’Donnell, William O’Neill, Sharon Kennedy and Judith French concurred. Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger dissented.

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