Opponents of Ohio utilities’ sweeping requests for coal and nuclear plant bailouts speak out against rate increases outside of Public Utilities Commission of Ohio in Columbus
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Residents across the state bused into Columbus June 15 for a spirited citizens hearing outside the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) as the highly criticized AEP and FirstEnergy coal bailout cases are set for a decision in the coming months. The rally took place against a backdrop of bold new ads that have blanketed downtown kiosks in waves for nearly a year, with the latest round featuring crayoned drawings from Ohio schoolchildren opposing the bailouts. The pending cases seek to raise customers’ bills to pay for Ohio utilities’ old, polluting and increasingly uneconomic coal and nuclear plants — what has prompted high-profile public hearings across the state where FirstEnergy’s plan was pummeled, with the PUCO denying a similar bailout case by Duke Energy, as well as a previous filing by AEP.
Organizations and businesses — including Macy’s, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Staples and AARP — have also joined in the fight against coal plant bailouts, sending letters to new PUCO chairman Andre Porter, appointed by Gov. John Kasich. The businesses previously cited a poll by Public Policy Partners showing a strong percentage of Ohio electricity customers favor clean, renewable energy sources to power the state — and do not support paying more to keep aging coal plants in operation. Meanwhile, the PUCO has received more than 10,000 public comments opposing the bailouts.
“When everyone from little kids to big Ohio companies like Macy’s and Lowe’s is telling the PUCO to shut down these costly bailouts, it’s time to listen,” said Rachael Belz of Ohio Citizen Action, the organization that submitted public comments from children, shown in the new ads in downtown Columbus. “These state officials need to stay the course of their decisions so far and keep supporting everyday Ohioans who don’t want to pay for dirty energy.”
Earlier this year, the PUCO denied two separate coal plant bailout requests — Duke Energy’s case and AEP’s previous filing. FirstEnergy’s pending case is the largest to be considered by the PUCO to date and is predicted by the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel to result in a $3 billion net loss to customers. The controversial nature of these proposals has resulted in multiple significant delays to the evidentiary hearing, most recently scheduled to begin on Monday, until abruptly delayed.
To view the new kiosk ads, click here.