More Hearings Scheduled for Akron-based FirstEnergy's New Rate Proposal

Dec 14, 2015

FirstEnergy's Davis-Besse nuclear plant just had its license renewed for another 20 years.
Credit TIM RUDELL / WKSU

More hearings have been scheduled by the Public Utilities Commission on FirstEnergy's proposed rate plan, a plan that's drawn criticism from environmentalists, clergy and some business groups. WKSU's Kabir Bhatia reports.

Akron-based FirstEnergy wants an eight-year agreement that forces its subsidiaries to buy all the power produced by its Sammis coal plant near Steubenville and the Davis-Besse nuclear plant. The Public Utilities Commission has another round of hearings scheduled to start Jan. 14, a year after it began considering the plan.

Michael Shields is a researcher with PolicyMatters Ohio and says, during this year of review, the company has added provisions for reducing CO2 emissions and for building new renewable energy infrastructure.

“When I look at this, it looks like they're things the utility would likely do anyway, because they position it a lot better to be competitive in the market.”

One of the new issues to be discussed is FirstEnergy’s goal to reduce CO2 emissions at its plants by at least 90 percent by 2045. Shields says the company might already have a plan in place.

“That’s a commitment to reduce emissions by 80 million tons. But we’ve got this Sammis plant that they’re saying, ‘We’re uncertain about the viability of this plant, today.’ And this is a plant that’s emitting 10.6 million tons of CO2 right now. It’s really very likely that shuttering this plant is likely in the calculus of how FirstEnergy thinks they’re going to get to that benchmark.”

The company says without the deal, the plants would not be able to compete against lower-priced gas plants and wind-turbine farms. The two FirstEnergy facilities employ about 800 people and have been cited for safety issues in the past.