- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 16, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The former chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is helping lead a lobbying campaign against a pair of deals that the commission is now considering.

Todd Snitchler emerged as a leading opponent of proposals by two energy firms, American Electric Power and FirstEnergy, saying the deals would undermine the competitive market he helped establish as chairman, The Columbus Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/224vFjP ).

Snitchler, who now works for Vorys Advisors LLC, a Columbus lobbying firm, was PUCO’s chairman from 2011 to 2013. He led several cases that helped move Ohio toward an open electricity market in which power plants compete to offer the lowest prices.

His client now is the Alliance for Energy Choice, comprised of eight members that include electricity producers and a trade group.

AEP and FirstEnergy have proposed settlements with PUCO that would guarantee they make a profit on selected power plants over an eight-year period.

Pablo Vegas, president and chief operating officer of AEP Ohio, said Monday the proposal will help ensure more stable electricity prices for consumers in the state.

Snitchler said the proposals are more akin to corporate bailouts because they would favor some plants while other power-plant owners will operate without this safety net.

The odds are “very slim” that savings will occur, he said.

“It’s an attempt to re-regulate without changing the law, and I don’t think the commission has the power to do that,” Snitchler said.

On Tuesday, the Dispatch reported that the Sierra Club is dropping opposition to AEP’s proposal in exchange for several provisions. The energy company agreed to develop 900 megawatts of renewable energy and close two coal-fired power plants.

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This story has been corrected to show that deals have not been completed with the two utilities, but rather are still proposals.

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com

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