Public Policy Research Education and Advocacy
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: David Hughes
February 7, 1999 412/421-6072
Cleveland, Ohio, February 7-- Citizen Power, a party in the FirstEnergy restructuring case at the PUCO, intends to fight FirstEnergy’s attempt to keep the public from participating in the biggest electric case in the history of Ohio. Today, Citizen Power is filing a motion at the PUCO to request that the commission schedule public hearings on the FirstEnergy transition plan throughout the company’s service territory.
FirstEnergy filed its plan to make the transition from a regulated monopoly to a competitor in the electric retail market place on December 22, 1999. The PUCO will conduct an investigation in order to make a determination as to whether FirstEnergy’s plan is in the public interest. A major issue in the case will be FirstEnergy’s request to recover $7 billion of its so-called “stranded costs”. Most of the $7 billion is the result of debt the company incurred for the construction of its Davis Besse, Perry and Beaver Valley nuclear plants.
FirstEnergy filed a “Memorandum Contra” at the PUCO on January 7, 2000 arguing that PUCO should not hold public hearings on FirstEnergy’s electric competition transition plan. “This is a smack in the face of every FirstEnergy rate payer,” stated David Hughes, Executive Director of Citizen Power, a consumer watchdog group. “FirstEnergy wants the PUCO to force us to pay $7 billion for the utility’s bad nuclear investments without an opportunity to voice our opinion about this request. I have never witnessed such a blatant disregard for due process in 20 years of consumer advocacy work,” continued Hughes.
“Rate payers should not be paying for these uneconomic and unneeded investments now, and they certainly should have a say in whether they should have to pay for them in a competitive market,” said Hughes.
PUCO issued an order on January 27 stating that it “will evaluate whether hearings are reasonably required in the transition plan cases at a later time.” Citizen Power believes that public hearings are a matter of due process, particularly in a case of this magnitude.