Ohio SC rejects challenge to AEP's rate hike

Chris Rizo Oct. 31, 2009, 5:00pm

Janine Migden-Ostrander

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline)-The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that American Electric Power can keep proceeds from an already-imposed rate increase.

The utility's three-year increased was challenged by the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel. The rate hike was approved in March by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

In March, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio approved a rate hike plan for AEP that capped the increases at 7 percent and 8 percent this year for Columbus Southern Power and Ohio Power, respectively. Meanwhile, Ohio Power was capped at 7 percent in 2010 and 8 percent in 2011.

The Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel challenged the rate increase because, among other things, it would be imposed retroactively, because the PUCO was several months late in reaching its decision. Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power is one of the nation's largest utilities.

"We are disappointed at the outcome, but will continue to take action to protect residential customers from rate increases we believe are unlawful," Ohio Consumers' Counsel Janine Migden-Ostrander said. "We have been fighting for months to get refunds we believe consumers are entitled to receive. We will likely file another appeal of the AEP rate plan after the PUCO issues another order on rehearing."

The high court's 6-1 decision Thursday was issued without an opinion. The justice's move allows American Electric Power to keep its rate plan in effect, barring future legal action.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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