Monday, February 4, 2013

Ohio Consumers' Counsel Joins COAST in Opposing Streetcar Tax

The Battle is far from over

Monday afternoon the Office of Ohio Consumers' Counsel filed its "Objections to the PUCO Staff's Report of Investigation" in the Duke rate case presently before the PUCO.

The Consumers' Counsel joins the rising chorus against the Streetcar Tax.

While we'd like to think that COAST has pursued and explained this issue as well as anyone; we must admit that the argument put forth by the Consumers' Counsel impresses us for its clarity and depth of analysis. In just a few paragraphs every horrible aspect of the proposed tax is laid wide open for all to see.
One aspect that we had previously missed is particularly interesting. Included in Duke's proposal is a rider to cover the cost of "uncollectible" bills - that is those bills that go unpaid by consumers. This rider is charged throughout Duke's service area. Ohio's Consumers' Counsel points out that if the Streetcar tax were allowed, whenever a Cincinnati ratepayer failed to pay their electric bill, the uncollectible rider would be used to cover that loss - effectively this would force non-Cincinnatians to subsidize the Streetcar.

From the "Objections to the PUCO Staff's Report of Investigation" Read the entire filing below:

G. Rates and Tariffs
1. Facilities Relocation – Mass Transportation Rider (Rider FRT)
OCC agrees with the Staff’s recommendation that Duke’s proposed Rider FRT should not be authorized for Duke to collect dollar amounts from customers. However, OCC objects that the Staff did not include (but should have included) in its rationale for not supporting Rider FRT the following public policy implications:

1) Rider FRT unfairly discriminates among customer classes by giving members of one class – governmental entities – preferential treatment in paying the costs associated with their requests for relocation of facilities; 
2) utility company riders should not be used as a means for governmental entities to fund public works projects, as governmental bodies have other means for paying the costs of relocating facilities; and 
3) to the extent that the citizens of the governmental entity would not pay their electric bill, the Rider FRT portion of that bill would be collected from all other Duke customers through the uncollectible rider.

Click here to learn how to make your voice heard at the PUCO.

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