Ohio Gearing Up for Electric Restructuring
Electric restructuring is almost a reality for Ohio consumers
statewide as American Electric Power's (AEP) transition plan and
Monongahela Power's plan were approved by the Public Utilities
Commission of Ohio. AEP's and Monongahela's Ohio customers will now
join the customers of the other three utilities in enjoying the
freedom of choosing their electricity supplier, with service
starting as early as Jan. 1.
"This order provides an opportunity to jump start the market by
providing the resources for retail customers to begin to shop for
competitive generation services," said PUCO Chairman Alan Schriber.
AEP Ohio President Floyd Nickerson said, "For the most part,
we're pleased with the approval. However, we disagree with the
PUCO's treatment of the gross receipts tax, and we will be asking
for a rehearing on this issue.
AEP Spokesperson Deb Strohmaier explained the tax dispute, "We
believe as it stands right now, the rule, and the order, and the
way the law is written, that there would be a double collection on
the gross receipts tax. We disagree with the commission on that;
$97 million is what we would have to eat, if that stands."
AEP's Columbus Southern Power Co. and Ohio Power serve 1.3
million electric customers. In May, the company reached a
stipulated settlement agreement with intervenors. Terms of the
stipulation agreement provide for extended rate freezes through
2005 or the end of the market development period, rate reductions
of 5% for residential customers as of Jan. 1, and other conditions
expected to increase the savings of commercial and residential
PUCO also approved Monongahela's plan on the one year
anniversary of the date Ohio's electric restructuring bill took
effect. The approval signified the fifth and final approval
necessary for electric choice to take place. Like the other plans,
stipulations provide for a 5% rate reduction and rate freezes
through the end of the market development period.
"This Commission order, and the four that proceeded it, provide
for an environment that will create a retail market and provide
opportunities for customer savings beginning January 1, 2001," said
PUCO already has approved plans from Cincinnati Gas &
Electric, Dayton Power and Light, and First Energy. All of the
companies' electric deregulation plans begin on Jan. 1.
PUCO spokesperson Beth Gianforcaro said billboards are already
going up, and the consumer education effort will begin in
mid-to-late October. She also said that marketers have started
submitting for certification, "probably about three or four."
Certification of marketers is PUCO's next priority, she added.
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