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Ohio regulator grants rehearing for DP&L electric security plan

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio will revisit its decision to approve Dayton Power and Light Co.'s electric security plan and related three-year, $105 million annual distribution modernization rider.

PUCO on Dec. 6 granted several applications for rehearing tied to its Oct. 20 approval of the AES Corp. subsidiary's request to collect more than $300 million from customers to help finance grid investments and protect its credit rating. The distribution rider is part of DP&L's six-year electric security plan, or ESP, which will determine the utility's standard service offer for nonshopping retail customers through Oct. 31, 2023.

DP&L initially sought to recover $145 million annually, or more than $1 billion, throughout the term of its ESP to help the company maintain its financial strength and "access equity and debt capital in order to finance transmission and distribution infrastructure modernization investments." That request came after DP&L withdrew its proposed income guarantee for more than 2,000 MW of coal-fired generation in Ohio.

Under various settlement agreements tied to its rate case, the utility committed to pursuing the sale of its ownership interests in the Conesville, Miami Fort and W.H. Zimmer coal plants to a third party. DP&L also reached a separate agreement with the Sierra Club to retire the coal-fired J.M. Stuart and Killen Station plants in June 2018, representing nearly 3,000 MW of coal capacity. DP&L has already transferred its interests in these assets to an unregulated affiliate as part of the divestment plan.

Coal producer Murray Energy Corp. argued in its application for rehearing that the commission failed to use its authority to require DP&L to include the J.M. Stuart and Killen Station plants in the sale process.

"Outright closure of the Stuart and Killen plants without at least pursuing a possible sale process is not in DP&L's interest, is not in the ratepayer's interest, is not in the interest of Ohio's coal production industry and is not in the interest of the local communities and the State of Ohio," Murray Energy wrote.

PUCO granted the application for rehearing filed by Murray Energy and the Citizens to Protect DP&L Jobs, along with petitions filed by the Ohio Environmental Council and Environmental Defense Fund, the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel, Retail Energy Supply Association and several other intervening parties. (PUCO dockets 16-0395-EL-SSO, 16-0397-EL-AAM and 16-0396-EL-ATA)