Cheap NatGas Blamed for Higher Electric Rates Coming in Ohio

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) approved a plan yesterday that is deeply complex and has us scratching our heads. From the press accounts we’ve read, we would summarize like this: The plan allows American Electric Power Co. and FirstEnergy Corp. to operate coal plants and a nuclear plant that currently (and for the foreseeable future) are uneconomical. The electricity produced by the plants can’t compete with electricity being produced by new natural gas-powered electric plants. But PUCO believes it is in the public interest to keep the old coal/nuclear plants running–so electric resellers will be forced to buy from the old plants at a high rate, and sell that electricity on the open market at a lower rate–and ratepayers (Ohioans) will pick up the difference in the price. Ohioans will subsidize the old plants. Because it’s in the public interest. Somehow. Even though the average Ohioan will pay $100-$130 more for the same electricity. Yes, it’s far more complex than that–there are provisions for more renewable energy sources, etc. baked into the plan. But what it boils down to is subsidizing old forms of energy that can’t compete with natgas…

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