The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio initiated what it terms "an investigation of Ohio's retail electric service market" by posing a series of questions to be answered by interested parties. Many of the questions seem to focus on FirstEnergy's gaming of PJM's capacity market earlier this year, such as:
Whether an electric utility should be required to
disclose to the Commission any information
regarding the utility's analysis or the internal
decision matrix involving plant retirements,
capacity auction, and transmission projects,
including correspondence and meetings among
affiliates and their representatives?
Should a utility's transmission affiliate be
precluded from participating in the projects
intended to alleviate the constraint or should
competitive bidding be required?
Are shared services within a 'structural
separation' configuration causing market
manipulation and undue preference?
Should generation and competitive suppliers be
required to completely divest from transmission
and distribution entities, maintain their own
shareholders and, therefore, operate completely
separate from an affiliate structure?
And this one, which is a particular favorite of mine:
As fully separate entities, does a utility's distribution affiliate have a duty to oppose the incentive rate of return at FERC?
This very issue was raised in one of the complaints filed by consumers against FirstEnergy's PATH affiliate at FERC this past summer. PATH had asserted that a consumer was protected from inaccurate, unjust and unreasonable rates by their load-serving entity. In the case of the complaint, PATH said that a customer of Potomac Edison, one of its affiliates, would be protected by Potomac Edison from unfair rates for the PATH affiliate set at FERC. FERC rejected PATH's argument and granted the consumer's complaint, finding that consumers have standing to challenge FERC jurisdictional rates.
It's nice to see that even if PJM's Market Monitor chooses to ignore FirstEnergy's obvious manipulation of the capacity market in favor of secret schemes to frustrate the development of new, badly needed generation in New Jersey and Maryland, at least the state of Ohio is interested in protecting its consumers.
Back in June, I pondered, "whether FE will get away with pushing the legal envelope, or whether evidence of possible misdeeds will begin to float to the surface like untethered bodies..." Looks like there's been a couple of floaters found... ;-)