Ohio solar advocates notched a big victory recently as yet another investor-owned utility has withdrawn its proposal to increase fixed charges on its customers. Duke announced it would withdraw its request for higher fixed charges from its emergency security plan. This decision comes on the heels of AEP’s decision late last year to withdraw a similar proposal. Solar United Neighbors’ community of solar supporters successfully testified against both proposals.
Fixed charges are monthly fees you incur no matter how much power you consume. Increasingly, utilities are attempting to restructure electricity bills so that more of each bill is made up of these charges. These fees directly affect how much of your bill you can reduce through solar generation, efficiency upgrades, and conservation. Higher fixed charges discourage efficiency and limit our ability to save money by producing a portion of our own power through solar.
Ohio law requires utilities like AEP and Duke to get approval to increase fixed charges from the Public Service Commission of Ohio (PUCO). Part of this approval process includes opportunities for the public to comment on rate decisions.
Two such opportunities are coming up next week for Dayton residents. Dayton Power and Light is proposing a massive 223% increase in its fixed charges. This raises fixed charges by $114 per year. That’s $114 that can’t be saved by solar or energy efficiency. Two public hearings were held this month for customers to express their thoughts on the proposal.
FirstEnergy is proposing fixed charges in a different case, but that case has not advanced to the public comment phase. Sign up for our newsletter to stay informed when that case reaches the comment phase.