1. Modified electric security plan adopted for AEP Ohio
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) has approved a modified electric security plan (ESP) for AEP Ohio that establishes generation rates through May 31, 2015. The plan also sets a schedule for AEP to expeditiously transition to a competitive market, in which generation rates will be fully set through a competitive bidding process beginning in June 2015.
During the term of the ESP, base generation rates will be frozen at current levels. AEP will conduct an energy-only auction for 10 percent of its standard service offer (SSO) load upon the completion of its pending corporate separation plan. On June 1, 2014, AEP will conduct an additional energy auction for 60 percent of its SSO load. A third energy auction will be held by January 1, 2015 for 100 percent of AEP’s SSO load. Under the terms of the order, AEP is directed to file with the PUCO a detailed competitive bidding process by December 31, 2012.
“Today’s order leads us towards more robust competition in the state of Ohio in less than three years,” said PUCO Chairman Todd A. Snitchler. “It also provides mechanisms for consumer protection, and maintains that AEP Ohio continues to provide adequate, safe, and reliable service to its customers.”
According to the Commission, the ESP provides a relief valve ensuring that no ratepayer’s bill will be impacted more than 12 percent. Additionally, the Commission established a significantly excessive earning test threshold of 12 percent return on equity.
“We respect the Ohio Commission’s decision to accelerate the move to full competition, but have consistently emphasized the need for a reasonable transition that maintains the health of AEP Ohio,” said Nicholas K. Akins, AEP president and chief executive officer in response to the PUCO decision.
The Commission previously approved an ESP for the utility in December 2011, but reversed its decision in late February citing hundreds of complaints from General Service 2 customers, primarily small businesses, school districts and local governments that were faced with substantial increases in electric bills. AEP Ohio was ordered to return its rates to levels similar to those in place prior to December 2011 until a new rate plan could be adopted.
2. State superintendent resigns
Stan Heffner, superintendent of public instruction at the Ohio Department of Education, has submitted his letter of resignation to the State Board of Education effective August 10, 2012. His resignation follows the release of a report of investigation by the Ohio Inspector General (IG) that found wrongful acts had been committed by Mr. Heffner.
A year-long investigation by the IG office found, while serving as interim superintendent of public instruction, Mr. Heffner appeared before a legislative committee and gave testimony supporting increased teacher testing requirements. However, one month earlier, Mr. Heffner had entered into an employment agreement with Educational Testing Service, an organization likely to receive a direct financial benefit if the proposed legislation was adopted.
Under the State Board’s plan for succession, Michael Sawyers, deputy superintendent, will become acting superintendent until the State Board meets to name a new state superintendent. The State Board has scheduled a meeting for August 20, 2012.
3. Redistricting amendment makes November ballot
Secretary of State Jon Husted has certified that petitioners have collected the additional signatures necessary to place a redistricting reform constitutional amendment on the November ballot. Voters First, the coalition formed to support the ballot issue, initially filed 254,625 valid signatures with the Secretary’s office, failing to meet the 385,253 signature requirement. The group submitted an additional 151,889 signatures prior to the July 28 deadline.
The proposed constitutional amendment would create the Ohio Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission to establish the boundaries for Ohio’s state legislative and congressional districts. Under the amendment, the Commission would consist of 12 members, the majority chosen by a panel of eight appeals court judges.
State legislative and congressional districts are currently drawn every 10 years following the federal census. State legislative districts are adopted by a majority vote of the Ohio Apportionment Board—which consists of five officials designated by the Ohio Constitution. Congressional districts must be passed in a bill by a majority vote in both chambers of the Ohio General Assembly and signed by the Governor.
Secretary Husted has called a meeting of the Ohio Ballot Board for August 15, 2012 to consider and certify ballot language for the proposed amendment. The Board will direct the means by which the Secretary shall disseminate information concerning the proposed amendment to the voters.
4. JobsOhio highlights accomplishments
JobsOhio President and Interim Chief Investment Officer Mark Kvamme shared the economic development organization’s second quarter results with board members this week. Kvamme told members that from April– June 2012, the efforts of JobsOhio and its economic development partners yielded commitments of 4,666 new jobs totaling $205 million in new payroll and capital investments of $863 million.
“Results from this second quarter tell a great story: jobs are growing across the state and in every sector,” said Kvamme. “One of Ohio’s greatest assets is its industry diversity, which means the economy does not rely on one or two sectors.”
Click here for a copy of the full JobsOhio report on second quarter results.
5. CSI releases mid-year report
The Common Sense Initiative (CSI) office this week released a Mid-Year Report on activities. Lt. Governor Mary Taylor leads the CSI office, which was established by Executive Order in 2011 as a process for independently evaluating the economic impact of state agency regulations on Ohio businesses. The office is charged with reviewing the impact a proposed agency rule filed with the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review has on businesses in the state to ensure that any adverse impact is justified by regulatory purpose.
Since beginning the process in January 2012, the office has completed reviews of 52 draft rule packages, consisting of 529 total agency rules. The CSI office issued 18 recommendations generally suggesting revisions to the submitting agency draft rules. Of those reviewed, 249 rules that impacted business were either rescinded or amended through the CSI review process.
For more information, please contact:
Michael Caputo (non-attorney professional)
Rebecca M. Kuhns (non-attorney professional)
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