When Will Duke Energy Resume Disconnections 2021

When Will Duke Energy Resume Disconnections 2021 – AEP, FirstEnergy, Duke Energy, and DP&L disconnected Ohio customers who could not pay their bills during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ohio’s four largest electric utilities cut off power to customers who couldn’t pay their bills nearly 200,000 times during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to documents the utilities filed with their regulators last month.

When Will Duke Energy Resume Disconnections 2021

When Will Duke Energy Resume Disconnections 2021

FirstEnergy, which owns utilities that operate in much of Ohio, announced in mid-March 2020 that it would “keep the lights off” as part of the company’s commitment to “shut off power to customers who owe their electricity bills…”. through the coronavirus emergency.” American Electric Power (AEP), Duke Energy, and Dayton Power & Light (DP&L) also announced early in the pandemic that they would temporarily suspend outages. , all four companies had resumed disconnection.

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Utilities recently filed annual disconnection reports with Ohio’s Public Utilities Commission detailing how many times they disconnected customers for non-payment from June 2020 to May 2021.

The reports, along with reports filed the previous year, show the number of customer outages reported by all utilities dropped to zero in April 2020, after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency last March in response to Covid. -19.

Contrary to policies enacted by governors and utility regulators in various states, however, neither DeWine’s order nor an order coming from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) mandates that utilities stop disconnecting customers for non-payment. Instead, the PUCO urged all utilities to “review their service interruption policies … and identify areas where it may be prudent to suspend for the duration of an emergency, otherwise applicable requirements that may cause difficulties in service continuity to customers or create unnecessary risks.” social contact”.

Orders issued by the PUCO in early May 2020 later directed utilities to develop plans to resume outages while the worst of the pandemic was yet to come for Ohio.

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“The Commission recognizes that, even in light of an emergency, unpaid service interruptions cannot be suspended indefinitely,” the PUCO said in a similar order targeting AEP.

So after voluntarily suspending disconnections from April 2020 through August, AEP and DP&L resumed disconnections for non-payment in September. FirstEnergy and Duke Energy shut down in October.

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The PUCO last year approved the utilities’ plan to restart connections despite warnings from the state’s official consumer advocate that Covid-19 cases were on the rise in Ohio and recommendations to continue disconnection suspensions until the state of emergency ends.

When Will Duke Energy Resume Disconnections 2021

Ohio’s Covid-19 cases will peak months later, right after the outbreaks begin again. DeWine did not lift the state of emergency until last month.

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AEP, FirstEnergy, Duke Energy and DP&L reported a total of 195,188 outages last September and October in their annual outage reports to the PUCO:

By utility size, AEP turned off power for non-payment the most — it cut power once for every 11 residential customers on its system. Duke has one outage for every 24 customers, DP&L has one outage for every 34 customers, and FirstEnergy has one outage for every 65 customers. (Utilities report only the number of disconnections, so some customers may have been disconnected multiple times during a nine-month period.)

Public health data shows that utilities resumed disconnection at the worst possible time. According to data compiled by The New York Times, Ohio averaged between 900 and 1,300 new COVID-19 cases per day from July to September 2020. In October, case numbers began to rise rapidly, reaching 10,000 new ones daily. cases in mid-December.

Represented by the Edison Electric Institute, the investor-owned utilities lobbied throughout the pandemic against efforts by Congress to impose a mandatory, nationwide moratorium on service outages that could protect Ohio consumers. Documents obtained by the Energy and Policy Institute through a public records request revealed how AEP executives asked lobbyists throughout its service area to lobby Congress against the moratorium on public utility commissioners as early as April 2020.

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Also last April, during the first full month that FirstEnergy suspended disconnections in Ohio, low-income advocates took to the streets of Cleveland to call on CEI to connect power to customers that had been disconnected before the pandemic. A disconnection report FirstEnergy filed last week indicates the company has largely ignored those concerns: CEI reconnected only twenty-three disconnected customers last April and just eight the following month.

Ohio utilities disconnected customers during the pandemic after securing ratepayer bailouts from House Bill 6, which is at the center of a federal criminal case.

FirstEnergy’s decision to resume disconnections last October was made with the approval of the PUCO, which aims to serve Ohio consumers. At the time of the decision, FirstEnergy was already embroiled in a massive $60 million bribery scandal. The scandal led to a series of layoffs at the company that began last October, and CEO Charles E. Jones and at least four top lobbyists, among others, were involved. The scandal also led to the resignation of PU President Samuel E. Randazzo in November.

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When Will Duke Energy Resume Disconnections 2021

Low-income and consumer advocates objected to FirstEnergy resuming disconnections when the pandemic emergency and its economic impact were clearly not over.

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Ohio Consumers’ Counsel pointed to a corruption scandal in a July 2020 motion that prompted the PUCO to order FirstEnergy to file a consumer protection plan and expressed major concerns about FirstEnergy’s plans to restart outages soon:

At a time when House Bill 6 and the bailout of FirstEnergy’s former nuclear power plants has and understandably continues to be the focus of much attention on the crisis of alleged corruption, the crisis must also be front and center for many FirstEnergy consumers caught up in the coronavirus pandemic. And the center for solutions by the government… We fear that FirstEnergy’s apparent intention to resume disconnection for families already suffering from health and financial hardship will be too soon. In Ohio, food-insecurity has nearly doubled, with half a million people not paying their rent, poverty levels are already high — minorities are disproportionately represented in poverty, coronavirus cases are rising in places, and now may lose essential utility services through disconnections. Making the plight of the people more desperate.

Energy Harbor-owned nuclear plants were poised to receive a $1 billion bailout from Ohio ratepayers before that part of HB 6 was finally repealed this year, along with other provisions of the law that financially benefit FirstEnergy.

Three other major Ohio electric utilities also received large public subsidies from other parts of HB 6 that are in place. AEP, Duke Energy, and DP&L all own equity in the two coal-fired power plants that received bailouts from the law. Ohio ratepayers have paid nearly $130 million in coal subsidies to AEP, Duke Energy, and DP&L since January of 2020, according to a tracker found on the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel website.

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Just one day after a federal grand jury indicted former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and other defendants on corruption charges, FirstEnergy filed its plan with the Ohio PUCO on July 31, 2020, seeking to resume disconnections. The indictment and earlier complaint in the criminal case allege FirstEnergy’s major role in funding what federal prosecutors say is a $60 million bribery scheme, although the company has not been charged. When FirstEnergy filed its plan to resume severance, the company had already announced that “it has received subpoenas in connection with the investigation surrounding House Bill 6.”

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“Ohioans would benefit if FirstEnergy tried to mediate its consumers’ pain during the coronavirus crisis by aggressively (but politely) seeking nuclear power plant subsidies from consumers in House Bill 6,” Ohio Consumers. The council, the Coalition on the Homeless and Housing, and the Ohio Poverty Law Center issued a joint statement last August calling for FirstEnergy’s severance moratorium to continue until the state of emergency is lifted.

AEP disclosed last month that it had received a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Enforcement Division seeking “documents relating to the benefits to the company from the passage of H.B. 6 and documents relating to our financial processes and controls.

When Will Duke Energy Resume Disconnections 2021

Former PUCO Chairman Samuel Randazzo resigned after FirstEnergy revealed it paid $4.3 million for the first time, more than enough money to cover the unpaid bills of Ohio customers whose power was disconnected by FirstEnergy last October.

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When FirstEnergy filed its plan to resume disconnections last summer, the company’s attorney pointed out that the PUCO, still led by Randazzo, had already determined that “even in light of an emergency, service disconnections for non-payment cannot be suspended indefinitely.” The plan filed by FirstEnergy also noted the fact that months earlier, the PUCO had ordered utilities to develop plans to resume outages and other pre-Covid 19 operations.

As chairman, Randazzo’s name appeared at the top of a list of commissioners approving FirstEnergy’s plan to resume outages in a September 23, 2020 order. Randazzo resigned two months later after the FBI raided his townhouse in Columbus and FirstEnergy disclosed a previously secret $4.3 million.

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