Commercial, Industrial, Regulation, Utilities - May 27, 2020
Dayton Power & Light denied in effort to recover COVID-related losses
A request from Dayton Power and Light (DP&L) to recover revenues lost due to COVID-19 has been denied by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) in a ruling announced on May 20.
The Ohio utility had submitted a proposition to PUCO concerning its preferred course of action to address the Ohio State of Emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their request for “reasonable arrangement to recover foregone revenues for resetting minimum demand charges” was contested by several local consumer advocates.
Motions for intervention were filed on multiple dates by Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy, Ohio Energy Group, Interstate Gas Supply, Inc., Ohio Environmental Council, Kroger Co., and Ohio Manufacturers’ Association Energy Group in response to the request that rates be adjusted to account for the change in electric usage during the health crisis. DP&L hoped to make temporary changes to their billing practices because of the change in power demand from commercial and industrial customers and proposed charging an energy-only rate for those customers whose demand meters are temporarily not being read. The utility claimed that this adjustment would prevent potentially unreasonable demand charges from a minimum demand set in the prior eleven months and provide relief for customers that have reduced or temporarily ceased operations.
At the recommendation of the group that submitted comments, PUCO directed DP&L to create an optional extended payment plan mechanism to benefit non-residential customers, rather than pushing the burden of relief onto C&I customers. DP&L will be encouraged to establish an opt-in process for these C&I customers to receive relief, rather than automatically the rate of service for these customers.
DP&L will also be required to track the costs associated with the emergency plan in a separate FERC account as well as any costs that the company avoids due to the emergency. DP&L will not be allowed to indefinitely suspend the process of disconnecting service due to non-payment.
SED's View: We applaud PUCO's decision on DP&L's one-sided request for cost recovery related to the impacts of COVID-19. In our view, Jim Lazar of the Regulatory Assistance Project nailed it with his call for a balanced approach considering all impacts on utilities (both positive and negative) from COVID-19 be taken into account. If you missed his May 13 column, click here to read it.