Ohio PUC Solicits Additional Comments On Consultant Report Concerning Corporate Separation Compliance Of FirstEnergy Ohio Utilities, In Light Of Spin-Off Of FES, Creation Of New Broker FirstEnergy Advisors
Consultant Report Had Recommended That "FirstEnergy" Name Should Be Dropped From Then-Affiliate FirstEnergy Solutions' Name
April 29, 2020 Email This Story Copyright 2010-20 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
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An Attorney Examiner at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio issued a schedule allowing intervenors to file supplemental comments on a report from a consultant retained by PUCO concerning a compliance audit of the FirstEnergy Operating Companies (including the FirstEnergy Ohio regulated utilities, or Ohio Companies) with the PUCO corporate separation rules
As exclusively first reported by EnergyChoiceMatters.com in May 2018, the audit report from the consultant had recommended that, if FirstEnergy Solutions continued as a retail supplier in Ohio, the name "FirstEnergy" should be removed from the competitive supplier's name. The consultant report's recommendations are discussed further below
As previously reported, since the issuance of the report, the company formerly known as FirstEnergy Solutions has been spun off and is now a separate company and no longer uses the FirstEnergy name (with the spun-off entity named Energy Harbor).
Furthermore, FirstEnergy Corp. created a new broker/aggregator subsidiary, known as Suvon, LLC, d/b/a FirstEnergy Advisors and FirstEnergy Home. As first reported by EnergyChoiceMatters.com, PUCO granted a broker/aggregator license to FirstEnergy Advisors, over the objections of OCC, NOPEC, and various retail suppliers, with PUCO stating that any concerns raised by opponents concerning the use of the FirstEnergy name by Suvon, LLC, d/b/a FirstEnergy Advisors should be addressed in the existing proceeding examining the consultant's compliance audit report.
The Attorney Examiner directed that supplemental comments may be filed on the consultant report in such existing case given these new developments
"In light of both the emergence of Energy Harbor from bankruptcy and the
Commission’s ruling in Suvon’s certification case, the attorney examiner finds that
interested persons should have the opportunity to file supplemental comments and
supplemental reply comments regarding the audit report filed in this proceeding," the Attorney Examiner said
"The examiner notes that this opportunity for
interested persons to file supplemental comments and supplemental reply comments
should not be construed to modify or extend the existing intervention deadline in this
proceeding of October 9, 2018," the Attorney Examiner said
"Further, the attorney examiner will take administrative notice in this
proceeding of the certification application filed by Suvon in its certification case on January
1, 2020, and the supplement filed by Suvon on April 1, 2020. Suvon, Case No. 20-103-EL-AGG," the Attorney Examiner said
Concerning the consultant report, as previously reported, the report said that, "FirstEnergy Solutions’ successful competitive retail electric services in the Ohio Companies’ territories may be related to its FirstEnergy name."
The consultant report stated, "By virtue of the name, FirstEnergy Solutions, it is impossible for the FirstEnergy Ohio Companies representatives to not, 'indicate that an electric services company is an affiliate ...' as they share the name, 'FirstEnergy.' Further, Case No. 13-3151-EL-COI requires the Ohio Companies to place the FirstEnergy Solutions logo prominently on the bills to FES CRES Ohio customers."
The consultant report stated, "When potential CRES customers are presented with a list of potential CRES providers, even if it is from the PUCO website, the name FirstEnergy Solutions connotes that it is part of FirstEnergy, just as Ohio Edison, CEI, and Toledo Edison are part of FirstEnergy. It is natural that some would infer that FirstEnergy Solutions is the same as their 'trusted utility supplier'” and give greater consideration to FES in making their CRES supplier decisions."
Among the consultant report's recommendations is, "Remove FirstEnergy from the name of FirstEnergy Solutions to eliminate affiliate bias."
"Using 'FirstEnergy' in the Ohio Companies’ CRES affiliate’s name, 'FirstEnergy Solutions,' implies an endorsement by the FirstEnergy Ohio Companies. Should FES continue to be a CRES provider in Ohio, it should have a different name that does not include 'FirstEnergy' or any other name that implies a connection to the Ohio Companies," the consultant report said
The report also said, "The link to the FES website from the FirstEnergy website provides an unfair advantage."