POMEROY - Ohio Consumers' Counsel Janine Migden-Ostrander said proposed rate increases in American Electric Power Ohio's Electric Security Plan will be a “one-two punch” to customers' wallets, and said her office will continue to monitor the process of setting electricity rates.
The office of the state's residential utility consumer advocate said it will carefully review each utility's Electric Security Plan and is concerned about any rate increases for residential consumers.
On Thursday, AEP Ohio filed its ESP in response to Senate Bill 221, which changes the way electric rates are set. The ESP, among other provisions, includes proposed 15-percent rate increases for the next three years. AEP cites the higher cost associated with fuel and other generating costs for the proposed rate hikes, and includes assistance from AEP stockholders for low-income households in its ESP.
“The anticipated impact of the Electric Security Plans would be a one-two punch to customers' wallets, as any rate increases would be on the heels of the higher distribution rates proposed by most of Ohio's major electric and natural gas utilities,” said Migden-Ostrander.
“These are dire times for many residential consumers, and well beyond just those with low incomes,” said Migden-Ostrander. “The decisions made in the coming months - through Public Utilities Commission of Ohio rules and the utilities' proposed rate plans - will determine future rate increases.”
“We need accountability that the money being requested by the utilities is fair and reasonable. The OCC will continue to work as part of the Ohio Consumer and Environmental Advocates and stands ready to protect the interests of residential consumers.”
While residential consumers can anticipate a rate increase, the level is undetermined.
“This is uncharted territory in terms of how rates are being set, which highlights the need for the OCC to protect consumers from any unjustified rate increases,” said Migden-Ostrander. “While traditional rate cases involve a year-long process, consideration of the Electric Security Plans is on a faster timeline.”
The OCC, the residential utility consumer advocate, represents the interests of 4.5 million households in proceedings before state and federal regulators and in the courts. The state agency also educates consumers about electric, natural gas, telephone and water issues and resolves complaints from individuals.