COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – The Ohio Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Ohio Edison and other FirstEnergy companies must remove some charges from their bills.
Since 2017, FirstEnergy customers have been paying an extra $168 million to $204 million per year through a distribution modernization rider (DMR). The DMR was put in place and approved by the Public Utilities Commission (PUCO) as an incentive to modernize their energy-distribution services.
The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the PUCO improperly authorized the charges and that the DMR didn’t carry accountability with it.
Justice Michael P. Donnelly stated the critical problem with the extra charge was that FirstEnergy was not specifically required to make any investments to modernize the grid in exchange for the extra money.
“And in fact, the commission made it clear that there are no plans for FirstEnergy to take on any modernization projects in the immediate future,” he wrote.
Justice Haron L. Kennedy disagreed with the majority opinion saying that the statute used to decide the case does not indicate an incentive “has to be conditioned or restricted or even related to the action being discouraged.”
FirstEnergy released the following statement on Wednesday:
“We’re still reviewing the Court’s decision and evaluating our options.
We continue to believe that Rider DMR provides benefits to our customers by enhancing our ability to modernize our system and invest in advanced technologies.
A third party appointed by the PUCO just this week determined that we have appropriately used DMR funds in support of grid modernization.
The Court directed the PUCO to ensure the Companies immediately stop collecting Rider DMR revenues, but recognized that Rider DMR revenues collected to date are not subject to refund.“