The Ohio Supreme Court has found that state utility regulators went too far in shielding documents from public view in a case dealing with FirstEnergy’s purchases of renewable-energy credits.
Consumer and environmental advocates had pushed for release of the documents, saying they would help the public understand why regulators found that FirstEnergy had overpaid by $43 million for the credits in transactions that may have involved an affiliated company, FirstEnergy Solutions.
“If a utility is misspending customers’ money, it should not be able to keep that a secret,” said Madeline Fleisher, an attorney in the Columbus office of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, reacting to the decision released Wednesday. Her group argued before the court that the documents should be public.
But this was a mixed result for consumers.
The court also found that FirstEnergy does not need to repay the $43 million because of a precedent that bars retroactive changes to utility rates. This part of the decision rejects the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio’s order to refund the money.