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Ohio utilities take three of bottom five in national analysis

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(The Center Square) – A study of energy efficiency programs offered by the nation’s largest electric providers found that Ohio’s leading utility companies are not doing well.

In fact, rock bottom.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy released its Utility Energy Efficiency Scorecard last week. The report evaluated 53 of the country’s largest providers by sales volume and three others that had been listed in prior reports. All three companies from Ohio in that group finished in the bottom five.

Ohio Edison, a FirstEnergy Corp., finished dead last and American Electric Power Ohio and Duke Energy Ohio tied for 49th in the rankings. AEP and Duke were two of the three utilities that fell the furthest since the 2020 study. Duke was tied for No. 18, and AEP was No. 21 in that report, which evaluated 52 providers.

The council said in a statement that the performance of Ohio’s utilities was so bad that they were responsible for almost the entire 5% drop in energy savings nationwide in recent years.

“If we remove the three Ohio utilities that had their efficiency programs effectively canceled by legislation (House Bill 6) in 2019, efficiency spending decreased only about 2.1% since 2018, while achieved energy savings stayed roughly even,” the report stated.

House Bill 6, the legislation in question, was slammed by critics as a $1.3 billion bailout bill for providers as it subsidized nuclear power and coal-burning plants. An investigation into the legislation ultimately led to the federal conviction of then-state House Speaker Larry Householder.

Two months ago, Householder was sentenced to 20 years in prison for accepting more than $60 million in bribes secretly funded by Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. to pass the bill. Householder used that money for various purposes, including to fund Ohio House candidates expected to support him as speaker. Funds were also used to defeat a ballot initiative that sought to overturn HB6.

Householder, 64, this month was transferred to a federal prison in Oklahoma City. He has appealed the ruling.

FirstEnergy, which owns Ohio Edison, agreed to pay $230 million in civil penalties for its role in the conspiracy.

Ohio lawmakers two years ago passed legislation that partially repealed the bailout bill.

Lauren Siburkis, a state and regulatory communications supervisor for FirstEnergy, told The Center Square in a statement that she could not respond directly to the report. However, she did say that the provider is committed to helping residential and business customers save energy and money.

That includes a rebate program that offers FirstEnergy customer rebates ranging from $25 to $500 to replace older, inefficient appliances. Commercial customers can also receive incentives for installing high-efficiency lighting and controls to help them better manage their power bills.

“We are committed to giving our customers the tools and choices to help better manage their electric use through these programs, which come at no cost to them,” Siburkis said. “These programs also promote our goal to reduce our carbon footprint by encouraging the public to use energy more wisely and make more informed decisions when it comes to their consumption.”

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