Ohio PUC to decide FirstEnergy, AEP plant subsidy cases today
- Ohio regulators set their schedule to consider today the controversial FirstEnergy and American Electric Power energy security cases, which request income guarantees at several coal and nuclear power plants in the state, Columbus Business First reports.
- The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has shifted its public meeting from Wednesday until today, and added the two cases to the agenda.
- The two companies say they need guarantees to continue running the plants, have negotiated eight-year contracts and agreed to a raft of cleaner energy commitments. Opponents call the arrangements "bailouts" and "subsidies," and out-of-state generators say they can provide the power cheaper.
Ohio regulators today will, finally, decide on power purchase agreements proposed by AEP and FirstEnergy, potentially bringing the long-running proceedings to a close.
For FirstEnergy, the company is looking at an eight-year settlement designed to keep two power plants operating: the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor and the W.H. Sammis coal-fired plant in Stratton. The utility says consumers will save hundreds of millions over the length of the deal, while the plants stay open.
In AEP's case, the utility would ink eight-year power purchase agreements to support Unit 1 at the Cardinal coal plant, Units 4-6 at the Conesville plant, Units 1-4 at the Stuart plant and Unit 1 at Zimmer. The PPAs would also cover the utility's contractual share of Ohio Valley Electric Corp. generation.
But the companies are facing pressure from outside. Exelon, the largest nuclear generator in the country, says it it could sell 3,000 MW of carbon-free generation into the state – and at $2 billion cheaper than FirstEnergy's proposal, despite not owning Ohio plants. Dynegy, which owns more than 5,400 MW in the state and is a competitor, said it could provide the necessary power at a savings of up to $2.5 billion.
While the utilities have reached settlements regarding their plans, there has been one holdout: “We've opposed the FirstEnergy proposal from day one,” said Shannon Fisk, managing attorney of the Earthjustice's coal group, previously told Utility Dive.
Fisk said there are several reasons Earthjustice is opposed, including of course the continued use of coal. What needs to happen is for parties to develop “an orderly way to transition away from struggling plants to better types of energy. But that's what is not happening here,” Fisk said.
- Columbus Business First PUCO to finally decide on AEP, FirstEnergy income-guarantee cases
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