In this article in The Columbus Dispatch, AEP's Little Drummer Boy threatens to take his toys and stomp off Ohio's playground unless he gets his way. WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, LDB, WAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
This is just the latest comedic moment in a long-running freak show that's been playing out in Ohio over the past year. A Dispatch reporter got interested in electric rates when AEP filed a rate case in Ohio last year. The more he found out, the worse it began to smell. Ohio's Public Utilities Commission (PUCO) has been completely captured by the companies it regulates, and the appointed Commission is stacked with corporate lackeys. The Governor furthered the corruption by cutting the Ohio Consumer Counsel's budget in half last fall. The stage was set perfectly for what happened next.
When the rate case turned into a privately negotiated settlement that some parties, such as the Office of Consumer Counsel, refused to sign, The Dispatch reporter got even more curious and wrote a string of articles about the corruption at PUCO. The Dispatch also used FOIA to access internal PUCO documents and correspondence about the rate case and settlement. The Dispatch took what they'd won in the FOIA and consulted ratemaking experts. Turns out that during the settlement, an inequitable share of a new distribution rider was allocated to the small business, school, church rate class that resulted in bills doubling for these customers. Incidentally, this class of ratepayers were not represented in the settlement, however the large industrial customers who were represented came out of it with a corresponding decrease in the amount they would pay for the distribution rider. The Dispatch published the results of their investigation, warning small businesses and others in this class that their rates would go up 30 - 40% if the settlement was approved. They also published quotes from PUCO internal emails where staff had pointed this out early on in the process. In fact, one PUCO staff person pretty accurately predicted the ultimate outcome. Despite this, PUCO went ahead and approved the settlement.
When rates went into effect in January, and small businesses started getting their bills, a public relations storm erupted. PUCO was hit with over 1,000 complaints, small businesses were facing layoffs and closures. In response to the possibility of having the flaming bag placed on their doorstep, PUCO rescinded approval of AEP's settlement and rate increase last week. AEP's stock tanked 5%. PUCO pointed the finger at AEP for gouging customers without their knowledge.
Read The Columbus Dispatch's coverage of all this here.
Instead of falling gracefully on their sword, AEP pointed the finger back at PUCO and demanded that they reinstate the part of the settlement that allows them to limit the competition that's kicking their deregulated generation rear end in the state. AEP wants this immediately, or they're going to move their headquarters out of Ohio and cause massive job loss.
Hahahahahahahahahaaa! Hysterical! I guess some corporate PR genius was still sniffing the fumes of their successful snow job of WV's Senate Judiciary Committee last week, where the threat of job loss was used to get their own way. Really dumb move. LDB looks like a pouty pre-schooler and nobody really seems to care if he stomps off, in fact they are welcoming him to do so.
Buh-bye, AEP! Don't make threats you don't intend to carry out. Tony the Trickster and his merry band of wanna-be corporate pirates are batting their eyelashes at PUCO, wanting to be their next darling and take your place. Apparently, nobody's going to miss you much.