Study Shows Ohioans Oppose Regulated Energy Market
Ohio voters oppose a regulated energy market, according to a Fallon Research poll. Throughout 2016, the largest electric utilities in Ohio discussed restructuring competitive markets within the state. Despite the utility giants’ efforts to change the established seven-year construct, Ohio voters may be the biggest political snag in their way.
Fallon Research and Communications conducted the telephone poll in January. First reported by The Cleveland Plain Dealer, it revealed Ohio voters were uniformly opposed to a regulated market construct that would make way for monopoly utilities. The survey polled a panel of 800 Ohio voters about key supporting issues. The results favoring energy choice and objection to monopoly utilities were consistent across party affiliation, gender, age, and location.
Results from Fallon Research’s Poll & The Plain Dealer’s Report:
Evidence of Opposition to Regulated Energy
More than 91 percent opposed any law change allowing FirstEnergy or AEP to build new power plants and raise monthly rates to pay for them. AEP wants to do exactly that, build wind and solar farms and maybe new gas turbine plants while selling off or closing its old coal units.
Nearly 79 percent opposed legislation that would eliminate a customer’s choice to shop for power suppliers. Suppliers now compete for customers through a state-maintained “Energy Choice” website. A return to old-style regulation would end competition. Regulation would force customers to return to their traditional electric utilities.
Nearly 62 percent of people polled said they would oppose paying extra every month to support older power plants that cannot compete well against modern gas turbine plants. FirstEnergy has persuaded state regulators to do just that. Federal regulators previously objected to more expensive proposals that spelled out exactly how the extra fees would be spent.
Nearly 60 percent of voters objected to the creation of special subsidies for one fuel source. FirstEnergy’s nuclear power plants are one example. They are expensive to operate and don’t compete well against gas turbine plants. The idea has been adopted in New York and Illinois, but has been challenged as anti-competitive.
AARP and the Alliance for Energy Choice funded the statewide poll. The Alliance spokesperson, and former chairman of the PUCO, Todd Snitchler spoke on the results of the poll commenting that, “The results of the poll clearly demonstrate that talk about a need for re-regulation or changes to Ohio’s energy landscape, is pointed in the wrong direction.