IGS Energy: "Erratic" Behavior of FirstEnergy Regarding Competitive Market Should Make PUCO Concerned With State of Retail Market
December 23, 2014 Email This Story Copyright 2010-14 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
The "erratic" behavior of FirstEnergy regarding the competitive market makes the health of the current retail market at the FirstEnergy Ohio utilities precarious, and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio should not rely on current migration levels as indicative of a sustainable market, IGS Energy said in testimony proposing retail market enhancements as part of the FirstEnergy utilities' electric security plan.
Residential migration at the FirstEnergy Ohio utilities is about 70%, which the utilities have argued is indicative of a robust market which does not require provisions sought by retail suppliers, such as POR.
IGS Energy noted, however, that despite the utilities' refusal to provide the exact amount of electric shopping that can be attributed to aggregation, "it is apparent that one aggregation supplier alone serves over 500,000 customers in the service territories of Ohio Edison Company and Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company."
Currently, FirstEnergy Solutions supplies that large aggregation.
"[T]he 'competitiveness' of the FE market is so highly contingent on an aggregation supplier (FES) which is now advocating for re-regulation of electric generation [via ratepayer-backed contracts for its plants]," IGS Energy said.
"Further, FES has announced that it is returning (and has returned) a significant number of its customers to SSO service. While it appears for now that FES intends to still retain its aggregation customers, if FES decides to pull out of that business and return those customers to the SSO, the electric shopping in the FE territory could be severely diminished," IGS Energy noted.
"Accordingly, given FE/FES' erratic behavior when it comes to its view of competitive markets, I am concerned about the future of competitive retail electric markets in the FirstEnergy service territory," IGS Energy's witness said.
Given the precarious nature of the retail market at the FirstEnergy utilities, IGS Energy sought various enhancements, including the ability for retail suppliers to bill non-commodity costs on bill ready utility consolidated billing (noting that the FirstEnergy utilities themselves bill non-commodity unregulated services on their bills), the introduction of supplier consolidated billing, and the further unbundling of costs attributable to default service.