FirstEnergy Ohio Utilities File Settlement to Provide $900 Million Federal Tax Refund
Written By: Jen Neville
November 13, 2018
FirstEnergy Corp.'s Ohio utilities – Ohio Edison, Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company and Toledo Edison – recently filed a stipulated agreement that would return $900 million to customers as a result of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act. The proposed settlement was supported by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Staff, representatives of industrial and commercial customers, environmental advocates, hospitals, competitive generation suppliers and other parties.
Upon Commission approval, a typical residential customer using 1,000-kilowatt hours of electricity could expect to see an immediate $3.90 reduction in monthly bills, with the rest of the savings credited to customers over the next 25 years. With the agreement, FirstEnergy's Ohio customers would receive 100 percent of the tax savings created by the Tax Cut and Jobs Act.
FirstEnergy would also invest more than $500 million over three years to modernize the electric distribution system with advanced automation equipment, real-time voltage controls and the installation of 700,000 smart meters and resolves two previous grid modernization cases that were pending with the PUCO.
The grid modernization programs would enhance electric service for customers by reducing the frequency and duration of power outages, eliminating estimated meter reads and providing customers with greater access to more detailed electric usage information.
"The agreement filed with the PUCO will deliver financial and service reliability benefits for our customers now and in the future," stated Samuel L. Belcher, senior vice president and president of FirstEnergy Utilities. "The grid modernization initiative is consistent with the technology supported by the PUCO and the initial deployment of smart meters for our Ohio utilities will ultimately help customers make more informed decisions about their energy usage."
Key components of FirstEnergy's grid modernization plan outlined in the settlement include:
– Installing 700,000 smart meters throughout the Ohio Edison, Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company and Toledo Edison areas along with the necessary supporting communications infrastructure and data management system.
– Developing time-varying rates that give customers the opportunity to reduce their monthly electric bill by using energy during off-peak periods.
– Installing automated equipment on at least 200 distribution lines that can automatically isolate problems, prevent entire circuit lockouts, and quickly restore electric service to customers. FirstEnergy will work with the PUCO staff to determine which circuits will be prioritized to maximize customer benefits.
– Installing voltage regulating equipment on at least 202 circuits to provide energy efficiency benefits by reducing excessive voltage levels on the distribution grid.
FirstEnergy asked the PUCO to act on the settlement agreement by December 31, 2018.
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