Group urges PUCO to halt DP&L charge to customers

The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel is urging the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to take action after a Ohio Supreme Court ruling last month reversed a decision that let Dayton Power & Light charge customers extra in an “electric security plan service stability rider.”

The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, which earlier this year appealed the PUCO decision along with the Industrial Energy Consumers of Ohio, is lamenting the delay.

“Regrettably, DP&L ‎has already collected more than a quarter-billion dollars from consumers for a charge that the Ohio Supreme Court has now found to be unlawful,” Dan Doron, a spokesman for the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, said in an email Tuesday.

“Time is of the essence to stop DP&L’s charges, especially because DP&L will not likely be required to refund the money to consumers,” he added.

Matt Schilling, a spokesman for PUCO, said the commission will take action “sooner rather than later.”

“No movement yet,” he said. “The PUCO will have to take some action, I expect sooner rather than later, but I hesitate to give any sort of timeframe.”

The counsel’s office wants to stop the charge, which costs the average DP&L customer about $5 a month.

The rider was designed to collect $110 million annually from Jan. 1, 2014 through Dec. 31, 2016. The rider was meant to help protect DP&L as customers switched to new power providers in a more competitive market.

A message was sent to DP&L seeking comment.

In a follow-up filing before PUCO June 21 — a day after the Supreme Court ruling — the counsel’s office wrote, “Without Commission (PUCO) action, customers will continue to pay (at approximately $10 million per month, and over a quarter billion dollars thus far) … until the Commission orders otherwise.”

Last month, Ohio Consumers’ Counsel Bruce Weston hailed the Supreme Court’s reversal, saying the decision “gives Ohioans a benefit of competitive markets for the future.”

“The decision should spare consumers from paying up to $80 million to DP&L,” Weston said at the time. “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.”

Industrial Energy Users of Ohio is 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.

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