Ohioans could see a new charge in their electric bills as early as June, now that state regulators have approved plans by FirstEnergy and AEP to guarantee income for struggling coal plants. But while opponents are fighting the ruling, those utilities are touting the benefits.
Groups against the so-called coal plant bailout say the ruling from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio gives AEP and FirstEnergy an unfair competitive advantage.
But AEP President, Pablo Vegas, says his utility needed the ability to charge customers more in order to stabilize costs.
“We don’t want to see that kind of price shock," he said. "So we think that having a gradual transition away from coal is a much more responsible way to do it because it’s going to take time to build its replacement.”
The PUCO’s ruling caps any additional charge at 5%. So customers of both FirstEnergy and AEP paying an average of $100 a month won’t see more than $5 added to their bills.