- Sought protections for residential utility consumers, regarding the health and financial crises of the coronavirus pandemic. OCC advocated in PUCO cases for indefinitely suspending utility disconnections of consumers, extending bill-payment plans, increasing bill-payment assistance and halting door-to-door sales by energy marketers. These activities regarding utility services reflected the broader struggles of many Ohioans during the pandemic with such issues as health, job loss, risk of utility disconnection, food insecurity, loss of housing and poverty.
- Testified seven times before the Ohio General Assembly. Five of OCC’s testimonies were for repeal of tainted House Bill 6 (that included nuclear and coal power plant subsidies, among other giveaways). OCC’s testimonies followed the U.S. Attorney’s filing of a Criminal Complaint alleging bribery, racketeering and corruption against some involved in the legislative process. House Bill 6 provided various benefits at consumer expense for FirstEnergy, Energy Harbor, AEP, DP&L and Duke, among others.
- Called on the PUCO, in a Sept. 8, 2020 filing, to open investigations of FirstEnergy, after the U.S. Attorney filed the Criminal Complaint regarding House Bill 6 that included reference to an unidentified “Company A” (which may be FirstEnergy, though it was not charged with a crime).
- Participated for Ohio consumers in more than 100 cases before the PUCO, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Ohio Supreme Court.
- Called for reform of the process of selecting PUCO commissioners in an Aug. 25, 2020 OCC Governing Board resolution. There, the OCC Board noted that “three of the five current PUCO commissioners have worked for the special interests of public utilities….” (OCC followed up by calling for reform of the PUCO commissioner selection process in a Jan. 4, 2021 letter to the Governor from the Agency Director, referencing the Board’s 2020 resolution.)
- Advocated to protect consumers from rip-offs by energy marketers in several cases. OCC’s consumer advocacy included seeking consumer protections from excessive marketer rates in the so-called “monthly variable rate” program in the Dominion Energy service area. And OCC continued to ask the PUCO to ban marketers Verde Energy and PALMco Energy from operating in Ohio.
- Succeeded in protection of FirstEnergy (Ohio Edison) consumers in a Dec. 1, 2020 decision by the Ohio Supreme Court that overturned a PUCO decision favoring FirstEnergy. The Court’s decision allows for the potential that some of Ohio Edison’s high profits may be refunded to its consumers.
- Educated utility consumers and groups during the pandemic by replacing outreach visits with remote meetings. OCC provided education with more than 600 presentations to consumer groups; most of those presentations were made remotely. OCC continued its long-time involvement with groups representing at-risk Ohioans.
- Called on legislators and stakeholders to oppose Substitute House Bill 246 and “limit the influence of utility special interests…,” through a June 17, 2020 OCC Governing Board Resolution. There the Board noted that “Sub. H.B. 246 would weaken the independence of the Consumers’ Counsel Governing Board and politicize it…” and “weaken the utility watchdog role of the Governing Board…” and OCC.