Patch.com, By Chris Mosby, Posted July 20th 2021
Find out why you’re likely to see a refund on your August electric bill.
Many Ohioans will see a refund on their August electric bill thanks to a new order compelling FirstEnergy to return money collected via a decoupling charge.
Customers of Ohio Edison, The Illuminating Company and Toledo Edison will all see the refund.
“The estimated average monthly bill impact on a typical FirstEnergy residential customer using 1,000 kWh per month is a credit of about $12.75,” said Jennifer Young, an external communications manager for FirstEnergy.
Why You’ll Get a Refund
When the controversial House Bill 6 passed in 2019, one of the features of the legislation was a “decoupling” mechanism that allowed FirstEnergy’s utility companies to “decouple” their revenue from the amount of electricity used by customers.
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House Bill 6 allowed FirstEnergy to guarantee itself revenues based on its 2018 performance. If electric energy use was down, the companies could add an additional surcharge onto customer bills to make up the difference in revenue.
The decoupling charge was collected by FirstEnergy Ohio’s utilities for 13 months, according to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.
When House Bill 6 became mired in controversy — thanks to allegations of bribery and political scandal — several political entities launched efforts to halt the decoupling charges. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost asked for an injunction barring the companies from collecting the surcharges, legislators passed House Bill 128 repealing parts of House Bill 6, and FirstEnergy publicly made a vow to return the collected funds.
The company also revealed it had collected approximately $26 million via decoupling charges.
“Moving forward, the company remains committed to engaging in a holistic and transparent manner with key stakeholders,” FirstEnergy said in a statement in March 2021.
While the decoupling portion of House Bill 6 may be resolved, additional investigations into other facets of the legislation continue. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has four ongoing investigations related to the bill, including audit reports and an exploration of FirstEnergy’s charitable and political spending, said Matt Schilling, director of the Commission’s office of public affairs.