FirstEnergy customers wishing to produce their own electric power from wind turbines face unlawful and burdensome obstacles created by the company, the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC) charged recently in a complaint filed against the utility.
“Ohio law and public policy encourage consumer-produced power through renewable sources such as wind and solar,” said Consumers’ Counsel Janine Migden-Ostrander. “According to several consumers and supporting documents, the utility has erected obstacles that fail to comply with the law.”
Individual complaints date to 2007. Each allege FirstEnergy violated Ohio law and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) rules regarding how consumers producing their own power can connect to their local utility’s grid and receive monetary credits through a process known as “net-metering.”
The OCC’s complaint stated that FirstEnergy customers have merely attempted to exercise their rights to produce electricity as intended by Ohio law and policy. Each consumer attempted to connect a wind turbine to the company’s grid, but was met by excessively burdensome and expensive requirements imposed by FirstEnergy.
For example, FirstEnergy has required consumers generating their own wind power to purchase a new meter despite consumers’ current meters being adequate for the purposes of net-metering.
Based on FirstEnergy’s violation of statutes and rules, the OCC asked the PUCO to:
- Find that the utility has provided inadequate service and facilities to its customers;
- Order the utility to stop imposing additional requirements or charges beyond those stated in PUCO rules;
- Require FirstEnergy to revise and present clear and uniform standards for customer interconnections and net-metering; and
- Penalize the utility up to $10,000 per day for each violation of Ohio law.
The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC), a residential utility consumer advocate, represents the interests of 4.5 million households in proceedings before state and federal regulators and in the courts. The state agency also educates consumers about electric, natural gas, telephone and water issues and resolves complaints from individuals. To receive utility information, brochures, schedule a presentation or file a utility complaint, residential consumers may call 1-877-PICKOCC (1-877-742-5622) toll free in Ohio or visit the OCC website at www.pickocc.org.
Source: Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel