Regulators near decisions on FirstEnergy, AEP rate deals

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio utility regulators are nearing decisions on two proposed energy deals that have sparked fierce debate among consumer, business and environmental advocates.

The power purchase agreements proposed separately by Akron-based FirstEnergy and Columbus-based AEP have been the subject of television ad wars, email-writing campaigns, apps and web sites and mountains of written testimony.

They ask regulators to permit rate increases over eight years to subsidize certain aging coal-fired and nuclear plants and guarantee profits.

Critics call the rate plans bailouts that flout Ohio’s decision to deregulate its electricity market and force power companies to compete on an open market. The companies and their allies argue the proposals protect jobs and aid the expensive transition to cleaner energy.

Decisions by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio could come later this month.