Customer rates go up, power plants remain on track to close –
Story by Patricia Beech –
Photo by Mark Carpenter –
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) on Friday, Oct.20 approved new charges and a new Electric Security Plan (ESP) for DP&L customers.
In a press release, the Utilities Commission said the company would be required to end the collection of its annual $73 million “Retail Stability Charge”.
“A residential customer using 750 kilowatt hours per month will see a monthly bill increase of $2.92 during the term of the new charge,” the PUCO said.
The new electric security plan will govern how DP&L can do business for the next six years and will allow the company to make a new charge to ratepayers, called a “distribution modernization rider” or DMR.
Although the energy giant requested a $145 million dollar rider annually for six years, the DMR approved by the Commission was considerably less, allowing DP&L to collect approximately $105 million in revenue annually until Oct. 31, 2023, with the option of extending the rider another two years with the Commission’s approval.
The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC) said the PUCO’s decision would penalize residential customers by driving up rates for “average residential customers”, with the “average residential ratepayer” paying $9 more a month, or $108 more per year.
According to the OCC, the Commission’s approval of DP&L’s electric security plan allows more subsidies for the utility’s power plants, but conspicuously absent in the PUCO report was any mention of saving Adams County’s power plants.
“The Commission neither authorizes nor approves either the sale or closure of the Killen or Stuart plants,” said an unnamed source close to the case. “The future of Adams County’s power plants is not a part of this Electric Security Plan and is at the sole discretion of the company’s management or the management of AES Ohio once the transfer has been completed.”
In mid-February a group of Adams County residents filed a motion with the PUCO opposing the closing of the plants and calling the plan“self-serving” and “disastrous”.
The group – calling themselves “Citizens to Protect DP&L Jobs” presented three main goals to the Commission: postpone closing the plants for 5 – 10 years; establish a decommissioning plan that guarantees the county will not be left with an “environmental mess”; and get infrastructure in place that will generate economic growth.
DP&L owns 5,500 acres in Adams County, including seven miles of riverfront property.
The Killen and Stuart plants generate about $9 million annually in property taxes to the county. Together, the two plants employ nearly 700 workers with an annual payroll of approximately $30 million.