DP&L switches proposed electric charge before hearing

Unclear how new rider would affect residential electricity rates

On Friday, four days before a public hearing in Dayton, Dayton Power & Light (DP&L) withdrew a proposed “reliable electricity rider,” or charge, in favor of another proposed charge, this one for “distribution and modernization.”

A proposed “electric security plan” for DP&L — the subject of Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) hearings Tuesday at Dayton City Hall — is still on the table before state officials.

But a DP&L spokeswoman could not immediately say how rates for residential customers may be affected by the last-minute change, filed electronically with the PUCO.

“Right now, we’re gathering testimony, as we’re speaking, for a distribution and modernization rider,” said Mary Ann Kabel, a spokeswoman for the utility. “That’s where we are.”

She declined to elaborate. A PUCO spokesman said the new filing from the company on Friday was “devoid of any details” on possible consumer costs.

“That’s a great question, and unfortunately I have no idea,” said Matt Schilling, the PUCO spokesman. “It’s hard to know how any impacts may apply.”

He said utilities occasionally change applications as public hearings approach.

The change filed Friday in the PUCO’s DP&L case docket, submitted by DP&L attorneys, said the new rider retains customers’ ability to shop for a competitive electric supplier and introduces a “distribution investment rider” to “support continued investment in distribution system reliability.”

The change also “introduces a clean energy rider that will facilitate future investment in renewable and advanced technologies” and “maintains DP&L’s financial integrity and its ability to provide reliable, safe and stable customer service,” DP&L’s filing said.

But it wasn’t immediately clear how customers’ costs will be impacted.

There are other components to the electric security plan. As presented when DP&L first submitted the plan in February, starting in 2017, the charge for DP&L’s average residential customer bill — for every 1,000 kilowatt hours of use — would go up about one percent, or $1.21 per month, the utility said at the time.

That’s not the only proposed charge DP&L has before the PUCO. Late last year, DP&L also proposed a new, higher base distribution rate that would raise the total monthly bill for the average residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours by $4.07.

A kilowatt-hour is enough power to cook breakfast for a family of four or to use a computer for several hours.

In 2014, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,932 kilowatt-hours (kWh), an average of 911 kWh per month, according to the U.S Energy Information Administration.

Another three major Ohio power providers — First Energy, AEP and Duke — have sought rate increases as “security” against market conditions and environmental rules which make operating traditional, coal-fired power plants more expensive.

Jeff Hoagland, president and chief executive of the Dayton Development Coalition, and Chris Kershner, vice president for public policy and economic development for the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, among others, spoke in support of DP&L at Tuesday’s hearing.

Hoagland said the utility has “played a large role” in the region’s economic turnaround that brought Fuyao Glass America to Moraine and made Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Ohio’s largest single-site employer.

“DP&L has been a crucial partner in the region’s economic development efforts over the years,” Hoagland said.

Others who testified Tuesday, however, spoke against the plan.

“It seems to me that if DP&L wanted a rate hike, it should be to provide more reliable service, not maintain dirty coal plants that should be decommissioned,” said William Davis.

Ellis Jacobs, a Dayton attorney, did not testify, but he said DP&L’s request is “not appropriate.”

“It just locks in old technology that DP&L customers already paid for many times over,” Jacobs said, referring to coal-fired power plants. “We need a forward-looking company that thinks about how to provide energy in the future. This just doesn’t help them get there.”

About the Author