RELEASE: OHCEF concerned about effect of proposed PPA on Ohio taxpayers

(Columbus, OH) – The Ohio Conservative Energy Forum today expressed concern with the PUCO’s approved power purchase agreements for FirstEnergy and AEP, saying it is counter to the work by the General Assembly and the Administration to create a better business environment and reduce tax burdens on Ohio families.

“State leaders have done exceptional work on behalf of Ohio businesses and families through income tax cuts, eliminating tax and regulatory burdens on small business, elimination of the estate tax, and other efforts,” said Mike Hartley, the group’s executive director.  “As a result, Ohio is a more predictable and more attractive place to live, to work, and to do business.”

Hartley said the OHCEF recognizes the unprecedented transition the utility industry is undergoing and does not want to see Ohio companies struggle.  The group also sees striking differences between the two decisions.

“While OHCEF has concerns about subsidizing uncompetitive power plants, we support AEP’s commitment to wind and solar, and their transition to energy diversity, security and reliability,” Hartley said. “AEP appears committed to transition to future with cleaner, cheaper sources of electricity; unfortunately, FirstEnergy seems content with sticking small businesses and families with higher electricity bills.”

By conservative estimates, FirstEnergy’s deal will cost 2 million Ohio ratepayers an additional $3.25 a month, or more than $400 million over the next two and a half years – but some analysts predict it could cost into the billions. Those ratepayers, Hartley pointed out, are Ohio’s small businesses that create jobs and drive the economy, in addition to individual households.  According to AEP, their deal will cost ratepayers about $200 million in the first couple of years – but some predicted it could exceed $1billion.

“This is a high price for Ohioans to pay to keep outdated power plants afloat when better, cleaner, more efficient options exist,” Hartley said. He compared the deal to the current alternative energy rider levied on ratepayers.  According to the Energy Mandate Study Committee report, the rider varies anywhere from 27 cents per month to $1.31 per month depending on the service provider – at least one-third the cost of the proposed power purchase agreement.

Alternative energy development helps put the state on a path to energy security and independence, and continued economic growth through energy innovation.  These are key reasons the OHCEF supports an all of the above approach to energy reforms and stands ready to work with AEP to advance Ohio’s clean energy future.  In contrast, there’s not much to work with in FirstEnergy’s plan.

“As conservatives, we’re advocating for common-sense solutions to energy security that reduce financial burdens on taxpayers while strengthening our economy and energy independence,” Hartley said.