FirstEnergy Corp.'s Ohio utilities filed a comprehensive settlement in support of Powering Ohio's Progress, their proposed Electric Security Plan at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. The PUCO is expected to rule on the settlement early next year.
The settlement filed by FirstEnergy's Ohio utilities — Ohio Edison, The Illuminating Co. and Toledo Edison — outlines ambitious steps to safeguard customers against retail price increases in future years, deploy new energy efficiency programs, and provide a clear path to a cleaner energy future by reducing carbon emissions.
Some 16 parties, including the PUCO staff, EnerNOC, an energy management solutions provider, and Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy, a low-income customer advocacy group, have signed it.
The settlement outlines an eight-year rate provision associated with a purchased power agreement with Ohio baseload power plants. The rate provision will help protect customers against rising retail price increases and market volatility, while helping preserve vital baseload power plants that serve Ohio customers and provide thousands of family-sustaining jobs in the state.
The PPA includes the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio, the W.H. Sammis Plant in Stratton, Ohio, and a portion of the output of Ohio Valley Electric Corp. units in Gallipolis, Ohio, and Madison, Ind.
A typical residential customer using 750 kWh of electricity per month could expect to pay a monthly average of about $3.25 more for the rate provision during the first full year of the ESP. However, customers are projected to save more than $560 million over the plan's eight-year term as retail power prices increase over time.
The agreement also establishes a goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions across the company's six-state footprint by at least 90 percent below 2005 levels by 2045. This goal represents a potential reduction of more than 80 million tons of CO2 emissions, and is among the most aggressive targets in the utility industry.
The settlement also provides more than $102 million to help low-income customers with bill payment and energy efficiency programs, along with economic development funding for Ohio communities. These investments will take the total amount provided to Ohio communities and low-income customers to nearly $200 million since the companies' first ESP was implemented in 2009.
"The proposed settlement is expected to deliver significant benefits to customers, protect thousands of family-sustaining jobs and vital tax revenues in Ohio communities, and provide for a cleaner energy future," said Charles E. Jones, FirstEnergy president and CEO. "The agreement also illustrates that a wide variety of parties support FirstEnergy's proposal and agree that it will serve the best interests of Ohio electric customers. The eight-year term provides an insurance policy for customers by keeping a diverse set of fuel sources available to generate electricity, rather than risking more plant closures and building costly transmission to import out-of state energy sources that put Ohio at greater risk of higher prices in the years ahead."
Other key benefits proposed in the settlement include:
· Preserving $1 billion in annual statewide economic benefits, including tax revenues and an estimated 3,000 direct and indirect jobs created by operations at the Davis-Besse and W.H. Sammis power plants in Ohio.
· Since 2009, residential customers' monthly distribution rates have increased an average of only $1.31, based on typical usage of 750 kilowatt-hours per month. Under the ESP, the PUCO must approve a request to file for a base distribution rate increase during the term of the plan.
· Filing a report by November 1, 2016, as part of a Resource Diversification Program that includes energy efficiency programs and renewable energy resources.
· A commitment to evaluate future initiatives for smart meter/smart grid technologies across FirstEnergy's Ohio service area for PUCO consideration and approval.