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Ohio regulators grant rehearing of DP&L electric security plan

Ohio regulators have agreed to revisit their decision to allow Dayton Power and Light Co. to continue and modify certain charges under its electric security plan.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio on Jan. 15 granted applications for rehearing of the AES Corp. subsidiary's electric security plan, or ESP, filed by the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel and Interstate Gas Supply Inc.

The commission in December 2019 issued an order allowing Dayton Power and Light, or DP&L, to withdraw from its third ESP and reinstate charges tied to a plan originally approved in 2009. The order followed a November 2019 ruling by the PUCO that ordered DP&L to terminate a distribution modernization rider tied to its rate plan.

The state's top consumer advocate, however, argues the PUCO's November 2019 supplemental order "further modified and approved" a settlement filed in the case that authorizes a "number of unlawful and unreasonable customer charges, including the so-called Reconciliation Rider." The Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel, or OCC, argues this rider amounts to power plant subsidies that are preempted by the Federal Power Act.

"The PUCO's exercise of state authority in violation of the federal act runs afoul of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Article 6," the OCC wrote in its late December 2019 application for rehearing.

The consumer advocate also argues state regulators erred by excluding distribution modernization revenues when "determining whether customers have funded significantly excessive earnings and deserve a refund."

"This limits the potential refund to customers for significantly excessive earnings under a utility's electric security plan," the OCC wrote.

Interstate Gas Supply, an Ohio-based supplier of electricity and natural gas, alleged four assignments of error in the PUCO's supplemental order tied to a modified supplier tariff, as well as authorized usage and switching fees.

In October 2017, the PUCO approved DP&L's third ESP and a three-year, $105 million annual distribution modernization rider. However, DP&L was told to remove the distribution rider after a Supreme Court of Ohio decision in June 2019 found that the commission's approval of an annual distribution rider charged by FirstEnergy Corp.'s Ohio utilities was "unlawful and unreasonable" and must be removed from their electric security plans. (PUCO docket 16-0395-EL-SSO)