UPDATE: AEP Intends To File New Electronic Security Plan

By: Brittany Lowe, Mollie Lair, Shannon Houser Email
By: Brittany Lowe, Mollie Lair, Shannon Houser Email

UPDATE: 03/06/2012 3:00 PM

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio says, they want a swift resolution, but they must maintain marketability.

A surprise spike in rates in December of last year made AEP customers angry, voicing their complaints to PUCO.

And PUCO listened, telling AEP they needed to create a new plan.

With the new ESP, rate's could take effect as soon as June 1st.

PUCO spokesperson, Matt Butler says, "AEP really at this point is simply complying with the commissions order a couple of weeks ago that instructed them to leave their original ESP application in place or file a modified version of that so the commission has a starting point in revisiting the case."

He adds, "once the company does file that, and they're planning to do that, my understanding is by March 30th. At that time, once the commission has a plan before them from the company, they will revisit the case in a timely fashion, and they do intend to look at that from top to bottom to make sure that they get it right and continue to transition the state towards a competitive market."

To voice your opinions, click on the hot button.

UPDATE: 2/27/2012 10:27 PM

A controversial move that has left many in the community paying the price.

"There are people that have been hit with extremely high electric bills. tThey're worried both as residential customers and as business customers about their ability to pay the bill. they want the rates to go back to the old level soon and their concern about whether or not that is gonna happen and how quickly it will happen," says Industrial Energy Users-Ohio Executive Director Kevin Murray.

Since the rate hike the PUCO has reversed their decision and rates will revert back to near what they were in December 2011.

"Quite frankly the local outcry from communities just like Belpre is what drove the commission to reverse course last Thursday," says Murray.

But that's subject to change as proceedings continue.

"I just encourage people to stay involved and keep speaking up about what we need to make sure that small businesses, local governments, schools, fair boards, you know all of these important members of our community are going to be able to keep functioning," says State Representative for the 92nd House District Debbie Phillips.

For more information visit www.puco.ohio.org.

UPDATE: 2/24/12

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio rejects AEP's new rate plan that raised some electric bills nearly 50 percent.

"And I'm glad they saw the light on it thanks to the Governor and the concerned people calling in," says Bedrock Diner owner Steve Null.

Faced with more than 400 complaints in the last two months...the Public Utilities commission of Ohio gave AEP 30 days to present a new rate plan.

"The commission really hit the reset button the AEP's plan which will allow them to start the case over from the beginning and ensure a complete picture of any proposal and then balance an interest of all customers in the utility as they go forward," says PUCO spokesperson Matt Butler.

Belpre restaurant owner Steve Null is still skeptical.

"It seems like they're more concerned about their fortune 500 clients than they are a small business on Main Street and residents on Elm Street, that's where they need to show more compassion," says Null.

There won't be any compassion for businesses that already paid the higher bill. The Utilities Commission says there won't be a refund.
And... Ohioans can expect a rate increase with any new plan.

For now the rates will be close to that of 2011.

"The commission remains committed to transitioning Ohio's utilities, including AEP, to full competition down the road that's something that the commission wants to do they feel it's in the best benefit of the customers," explains Butler.

"The policy that utilities are 75% generation cost and 25% distribution cost. They need to stay with it. If that's not suitable, if they really want to be market driven then go ahead and have the distribution part of electricity bid to the lowest bidder also," says Null.

Null says he appreciates PUCO listening...and hopes they do the same for the new plan.

"Hit the reset button and hope we get it right the second time," says Butler.

The PUCO says they encourage anyone to get involved by talking to the electric company or voice concerns to the PUCO.

Small business owner Steve Null says he's gone more energy efficient and was interested in seeing how much money he saved in January.
Imagine his surprise when the bill was over 500-dollars more.
"The snowballs are running down hill and I don't know where it's going to stop. I don't even know how to adjust my prices because I think the prices for food are too high right now, I mean it's really a concern about what's going to happen," explains Null.

That means generating over 15-hundred more a month for businesses like this diner.
Null says that means higher prices for customers... and less employees.
The extra cost comes in for the AEP transmission fee.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio says it all stems from nearly ten years of deferred costs.

"And what those are are costs that AEP accrued but did not collect from customers for things like updating, improving, maintaining the distribution system and also the increased cost of fuel," explains the PUCO spokesman Matt Butler.

Those costs are now coming through for all including every customer including... residential, small business, or government or large industry.

"That was a decision made under previous commissions and now we've got a new commission and we're trying to transition AEP into a more market based, cost, recovery system here in Ohio," says Butler.

And that's a decision that will have many Ohioans... paying now.
PUCO says if the costs aren't taken care of now.... they'll just keep accumulating.

The PUCO says those with a low load factor will be seeing the most increase.

"That means they have high electrical usage for short periods of time and low usage the rest of the time, this is maybe someone like a small manufacturer, On a kilowatt basis it will cost a utility more to serve that customer because they've always got to have the electricity available on the grid to see those customers at their peek usage, whether they're using it or not," says Butler.

Null says-- the nearly 50-percent increase is something he can't afford.

"You have that big of a cost and it's hard to grasp a solution for it. Because when you look at the amount of money it takes to make a dollar and it takes three dollars worth of business to pay one dollar worth of expenses in a nutshell," says Null.

The PUCO says they are taking these complaints seriously and applications for rehearing are going before the commission and say they do plan to address the problem.

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