FirstEnergy Ohio Utilities File Settlement to Provide $900 Million Federal Tax Refund to Customers
Agreement Also Includes $500 Million Investment in Grid Modernization and Smart Meter Customer Benefits
AKRON, Ohio, Nov. 9, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- FirstEnergy Corp.'s (NYSE: FE) Ohio utilities – Ohio Edison, Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company and Toledo Edison – today filed a stipulated agreement that will return $900 million to customers as a result of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act. The proposed settlement is supported by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Staff, representatives of industrial and commercial customers, environmental advocates, hospitals, competitive generation suppliers and other parties.
Upon Commission approval, a typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity could expect to see an immediate $3.90 reduction in monthly bills, with the rest of the savings credited to customers over the next 25 years. With the agreement, FirstEnergy's Ohio customers will receive 100 percent of the tax savings created by the Tax Cut and Jobs Act.
FirstEnergy also will invest more than $500 million over three years to modernize the electric distribution system with advanced automation equipment, real-time voltage controls and the installation of 700,000 smart meters. The settlement advances the PUCO's PowerForward initiative to enhance customers' electricity experience while keeping monthly bills affordable. It also resolves two previous grid modernization cases that were pending with the PUCO.
The grid modernization programs will enhance electric service for customers by reducing the frequency and duration of power outages, eliminating estimated meter reads and providing customers with greater access to more detailed electric usage information.
"The agreement filed with the PUCO will deliver financial and service reliability benefits for our customers now and in the future," said Samuel L. Belcher, senior vice president and president of FirstEnergy Utilities. "The grid modernization initiative is consistent with the technology supported by the PUCO and the initial deployment of smart meters for our Ohio utilities will ultimately help customers make more informed decisions about their energy usage."
Key components of FirstEnergy's grid modernization plan outlined in the settlement include:
- Installing 700,000 smart meters throughout the Ohio Edison, Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company and Toledo Edison areas along with the necessary supporting communications infrastructure and data management system.
- Developing time-varying rates that give customers the opportunity to reduce their monthly electric bill by using energy during off-peak periods.
- Installing automated equipment on at least 200 distribution lines that can automatically isolate problems, prevent entire circuit lockouts, and quickly restore electric service to customers. FirstEnergy will work with the PUCO staff to determine which circuits will be prioritized to maximize customer benefits.
- Installing voltage regulating equipment on at least 202 circuits to provide energy efficiency benefits by reducing excessive voltage levels on the distribution grid.
FirstEnergy has asked the PUCO to act on the settlement agreement by December 31, 2018.
FirstEnergy is dedicated to safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its 10 electric distribution companies form one of the nation's largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. The company's transmission subsidiaries operate more than 24,000 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. Visit FirstEnergy online at www.firstenergycorp.com and follow on Twitter at @FirstEnergyCorp.
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Forward-looking statements involve estimates, assumptions, known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements, which may include the following: the ability to successfully execute an exit of commodity-based generation that minimizes cash outflows and associated liabilities, including, without limitation, the losses, guarantees, claims and other obligations of FirstEnergy Corp. (FE), together with its consolidated subsidiaries (FirstEnergy), as such relate to the entities previously consolidated into FirstEnergy, including FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. (FES), its subsidiaries, and FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC), which have filed for bankruptcy protection (FES Bankruptcy); the risks that conditions to the definitive settlement agreement with respect to the FES Bankruptcy may not be met or that the settlement agreement may not be otherwise consummated, and if so, the potential for litigation and payment demands against FirstEnergy by FES, FENOC or their creditors; the risks associated with the FES Bankruptcy that could adversely affect FirstEnergy, its liquidity or results of operations; the accomplishment of our regulatory and operational goals in connection with our transmission and distribution investment plans; changes in assumptions regarding economic conditions within our territories, assessment of the reliability of our transmission and distribution system, or the availability of capital or other resources supporting identified transmission and distribution investment opportunities; the ability to accomplish or realize anticipated benefits from strategic and financial goals, including, but not limited to, our strategy to operate as a fully regulated business and to grow the Regulated Distribution and Regulated Transmission segments to continue to reduce costs through FE Tomorrow, FirstEnergy's initiative launched in late 2016 to identify its optimal organizational structure and properly align corporate costs and systems to efficiently support a fully regulated company going forward, and other initiatives, and to improve our credit metrics and strengthen our balance sheet; the risks and uncertainties associated with litigation, arbitration, mediation and like proceedings; the uncertainties associated with the sale, transfer or deactivation of our remaining commodity-based generating units, including the impact on vendor commitments, and as it relates to the reliability of the transmission grid, the timing thereof; the uncertainty of the timing and amounts of the capital expenditures that may arise in connection with any litigation, including New Source Review litigation, or potential regulatory initiatives or rulemakings; changes in customers' demand for power, including, but not limited to, changes resulting from the implementation of state and federal energy efficiency and peak demand reduction mandates; economic and weather conditions affecting future sales, margins and operations, such as significant weather events, and all associated regulatory events or actions; changes in national and regional economic conditions affecting FirstEnergy and/or our major industrial and commercial customers, and other counterparties with which we do business; the impact of labor disruptions by our unionized workforce; the risks associated with cyber-attacks and other disruptions to our information technology system that may compromise our generation, transmission and/or distribution services and data security breaches of sensitive data, intellectual property and proprietary or personally identifiable information regarding our business, employees, shareholders, customers, suppliers, business partners and other individuals in our data centers and on our networks; the impact of the regulatory process and resulting outcomes on the matters at the federal level and in the various states in which we do business, including, but not limited to, matters related to rates; the impact of the federal regulatory process on Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regulated entities and transactions, in particular FERC regulation of PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (PJM) wholesale energy and capacity markets and cost-of-service rates, as well as FERC's compliance and enforcement activity, including compliance and enforcement activity related to North American Electric Reliability Corporation's mandatory reliability standards; the uncertainties of various cost recovery and cost allocation issues resulting from American Transmission Systems, Incorporated's realignment into PJM; the ability to comply with applicable state and federal reliability standards and energy efficiency and peak demand reduction mandates; other legislative and regulatory changes, including the federal administration's required review and potential revision of environmental requirements, including, but not limited to, the effects of the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, Coal Combustion Residuals, and Cross State Air Pollution Rule programs, including our estimated costs of compliance, Clean Water Act (CWA) waste water effluent limitations for power plants, and CWA 316(b) water intake regulation; changing market conditions that could affect the measurement of certain liabilities and the value of assets held in our pension trusts and other trust funds, and cause us and/or our subsidiaries to make additional contributions sooner, or in amounts that are larger, than currently anticipated; the impact of changes to significant accounting policies; the impact of any changes in tax laws or regulations, including the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, adopted December 22, 2017, or adverse tax audit results or rulings; the ability to access the public securities and other capital and credit markets in accordance with our financial plans, the cost of such capital and overall condition of the capital and credit markets affecting us and our subsidiaries; actions that may be taken by credit rating agencies that could negatively affect us and/or our subsidiaries' access to financing, increase the costs thereof, letters of credit and other financial guarantees, and the impact of these events on the financial condition and liquidity of FE and/or its subsidiaries; issues concerning the stability of domestic and foreign financial institutions and counterparties with which we do business; and the risks and other factors discussed from time to time in our United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings, and other similar factors. Dividends declared from time to time on FE's common stock, and thereby on FE's preferred stock, during any period may in the aggregate vary from prior periods due to circumstances considered by FE's Board of Directors at the time of the actual declarations. A security rating is not a recommendation to buy or hold securities and is subject to revision or withdrawal at any time by the assigning rating agency. Each rating should be evaluated independently of any other rating. These forward-looking statements are also qualified by, and should be read together with, the risk factors included in our filings with the SEC, including but not limited to the most recent Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q, which risk factors supersede and replace the risk factors contained in the Annual Report on Form 10-K and previous Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, and any subsequent Current Reports on Form 8-K. The foregoing review of factors also should not be construed as exhaustive. New factors emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for management to predict all such factors, nor assess the impact of any such factor on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. We expressly disclaim any obligation to update or revise, except as required by law, any forward-looking statements contained herein as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
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