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Even non-customers must help AEP with shortfall, Ohio Supreme Court rules

Customers who have switched electricity providers are still required to help American Electric Power cover part of a $36 million expense, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled yesterday.

In a unanimous ruling, the court said the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio was correct in a 2012 decision that said all customers in AEP Ohio’s territory would be charged. Because the court agreed with the agency’s ruling, there will be no change to customer bills.

For a related: AEP asks PUCO for income guarantee for 4 coal-fired plants.

Industrial Energy Users-Ohio, a business group, appealed the agency’s decision, saying that customers who had switched to other electricity providers should not have to pay.

The $36 million was to cover a shortfall in AEP’s payments for interstate delivery of electricity. Typically, customers who have switched providers do not have to pay this charge to the local utility. In this case, however, the PUCO said that AEP could charge all customers, and the court now has said that Ohio law gives the agency the ability to do so.

If the business group had prevailed, customers served by alternative providers likely would have received a credit.

As of June, about one-third of households in AEP territory had switched to another provider.