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Published: Wednesday, 8/29/2007

Ohio Supreme Court strikes down FirstEnergy Corp. s fuel costs plan


COLUMBUS The Ohio Supreme Court this morning struck down Toledo Edison parent FirstEnergy Corp. s plan to defer its increased fuel costs for three years and then pass those costs onto customers beginning in 2009.

The 6-1 decision upsetting the current regulatory scheme came about three hours before Gov. Ted Strickland was to announce his plan framing the debate this fall on how Ohio should handle electricity rates in the future.

The high court said it was illegal under Ohio s 1999 electric deregulation law for Akron-based FirstEnergy to recoup higher costs incurred in generating electricity from 2006 through 2008 to its customers through rates it will charge for distributing future power to customers from 2009 through 2034.

The court sent the case back to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to fix the flaw. The PUCO-approved rate plan had been challenged by the Elyria Foundry Co., a FirstEnergy customer, and WPS Energy Service, a competing energy supplier.

In his dissent, Justice Paul Pfeifer went a step further, saying the utility should not be allowed at all to defer current costs to future customers, particularly those 25 years from now.

"Providing rate certainty today does not justify the commission s decision to allow current costs to be deferred," he wrote.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.

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