Environmental, conservative groups among backers of Ohio utility reform

Advocates for industry, consumer and environmental groups expressed strong support for a bill to reform state utility law at a hearing before the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee this week. House Bill 247 would end the current practice of Electric Security Plans, which allow a variety of nonbypassable charges, regardless of whom customers choose to buy electricity from. The bill would also prohibit utilities from owning electric generation facilities. And it would require refunds if utility charges were later found to have been unlawful or unreasonable. “With more Boomers headed to retirement, and on a fixed income, we must keep utility bills in check,” AARP Ohio’s Trey Addison told lawmakers on November 28.

For grid resiliency, Midwest utility joins others in sharing critical transmission equipment

A major Midwestern energy company has joined a regional effort to share critical transmission equipment when the power grid needs it most. Ameren Corp. — which includes Ameren Illinois, Ameren Transmission Co. of Illinois and Ameren Missouri — announced last month it was joining the RESTORE (Regional Equipment Sharing for Transmission Outage Restoration) program, a privately organized, binding agreement to share transmission transformers in the wake of a disaster. Ameren is now one of 28 companies that span the Southeast, Midwest and Appalachian regions participating in the program.