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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: David Hughes
October 25, 2000 412/421-6072
CITIZEN POWER APPEALS PUCO DECISION ON FIRST ENERGY
PITTSBURGH, October 25/PRNewswire/--Citizen Power, a regional watchdog organization, is appealing the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio’s (PUCO) decision to approve the FirstEnergy's transition plan. The Notice of Appeal will be filed at the Ohio Supreme Court today. Citizen Power is asking the Court for an expedited ruling.
Under the transition plan approved by PUCO, FirstEnergy is permitted to count as "competitive" switches any customers who transfer their accounts from FirstEnergy to its wholly owned subsidiary, First Energy Services. This procedure will allow FirstEnergy to avoid reducing customer bills up to $500 million, the amount it is “risking” if 20% of its customers don’t switch to another supplier by 2003. The risk of not reaching the 20% threshold is minimal because the competition plan PUCO approved will allow First Energy Services to sell power from FirstEnergy’s plants at a cheaper price than FirstEnergy’s operating companies and most competitors can match. Citizen Power believes the court will agree that a utility does not compete with its wholly owned subsidiary and that counting such intra-corporate transfers would thwart the intentions of the Ohio legislature in passing its landmark restructuring legislation.
“This is a transparent plan to reach the 20% switching level and get $9 billion of ratepayer money that will be used to pay for FirstEnergy’s massive nuclear debt, purchase GPU in Pennsylvania, and clobber anyone trying to compete in its territory” said David Hughes, Executive Director of Citizen Power.
Citizen Power is also appealing PUCO’s decision to let FirstEnergy exclude “nearby" utilities’ access to the 1120 megawatts of "jump start" generation capacity. “PUCO is letting FirstEnergy keep out those utilities most able to compete with it,” said David Hughes.
In addition, Citizen Power is appealing PUCO’s decision to approve FirstEnergy’s transition plan without first requiring FirstEnergy to submit a viable plan to give up control of its transmission lines to an independent operator before competition starts. “This is a requirement of the new law,” said Hughes. “You can’t have competition when one competitor (in this case FirstEnergy) controls access to the market.”
“PUCO left us no choice. We hope the court will fix a bad plan and we will still be able to start competition January 1. But, we’re not holding up a good plan; a short delay to get it right would be better than a long term fiasco,” Hughes said
"Citizen Power is filing this appeal because it does not believe PUCO's orders are logically supportable,” said Harvey Reiter, attorney for Citizen Power. "We feel confident that, on review, the court will reject PUCO's decision and direct it to consider the critical adverse effects of the FirstEnergy plan on competition in northern Ohio."