DP&L says it needs $600M to compete

Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 @ 12:33 PM
Updated: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 @ 12:33 PM

The Dayton Power & Light Co. got support and criticism at a public hearing Tuesday on its request to charge customers $600 million over five years to help it transition to a competitive market for electricity.

The utility has said the charge — which will amount to $5 a month for a typical household — is necessary because the company is losing customers and revenue. The charge is “critical” to the company’s financial health, a DP&L spokeswoman said last week.

DP&L serves more than 500,000 customers spread over 24 counties throughout the Miami Valley, including Montgomery, Preble, Greene, Clinton, Fayette, Darke, Mercer, and also parts of Auglaize, Butler, Clark, Madison, Shelby, Logan, Champaign, Union, Hardin, Van Wert, Ross and Warren.

DP&L’s request won’t be decided by the Ohio Public Utility Commission until sometime after March. The request has been criticized by industry and the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel.

The afternoon hearing at Dayton City Hall lasted just 32 minutes. Aside from DP&L representatives, attorneys representing DP&L, PUCO officials, and the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, only a few others attended the first of two hearings Tuesday.

Gene Krebs, a former state legislator and Preble County Commisioner, complained that service in rural areas wasn’t up to par, adding that power restoration during blackouts takes too long.

“We rural people feel like we are second-class citizens subject to benign neglect,” he said.

Sampson Wright, 30, of Dayton, said he works two jobs to keep his household that includes small children intact. He said he didn’t believe the utility had made a good enough case for a rate change.

“My experience overall has been great,” he said “My only complaint is the justification of the rate going up.”

During evening testimony, single mother of two Clair Thompson, 42, of Dayton, asked the utility to look more deeply at possible cuts before reqesting higher contributions from ratepayers. “I’m seeing dollar signs I don’t have,” she said.

Sanford Holmes, 59, of Dayton, a volunteer community advocate for AARP Ohio, said residents in his age group can’t afford increases in utility bills. “Too many people are struggling with their health care costs,” he said. “They find themselves either unemployed or with their hours cut back.”

The Dayton Art Institute’s executive director, Michael R. Roediger, praised the utility for its steadfast support of the arts through the DP&L Foundation even during tough economic times. A similar endorsement came from Ted Bucaro, government relations director at the University of Dayton.

The utility and foundation, which provides $1 million to the community annually, are financially separate, said DP&L spokeswoman Lesley Sprigg. Ratepayers do not bear any costs of foundation activities.

Sprigg said before the hearing that DP&L has worked to reach a settlement on the rate changes since March with the PUCO and the more than 25 intervening parties.

“We are facing the same challenge as other utilities in Ohio — lower energy prices coupled with an increase in customers switching” energy providers. “This significantly affects the company’s ability to attract capital and maintain financial integrity during the transition to a competitive market.”

She said a drop in energy prices since 2008 has significantly reduced company earnings and an increase in customers switching from the utility to other suppliers causes a revenue decline, but the utility still has fixed costs to meet required generation availability, reliability and service levels. Other anticpated costs will be in the required legal separation of generating plants from the utility.

“DP&L is seeking an orderly transition to a competitive market to ensure its future financial viability,” Sprigg said. The rate change, known as a service stability rider, “is critical because it will maintain DP&L’s financial health which will enable DP&L to meet its obligations to satisfy the electricity demands —availability, reliability and service levels — for all in the region.”

Today, with market-based service, customers are free to choose among utilities providing electricity. Ratepayers will continue to pay a portion of their bills to use the delivery system provided by DP&L.

The company said in filings that the charge would generate $600 million over five years, or $120 million annually.

It’s unavoidable by customers, regardless of whether they’ve signed up with a competing electricity provider. If approved, it would be effective through December 2017.

Even with the charge, DP&L said, other parts of the rates would decrease. Residential customers using more than a household average would see a decrease. Commercial and industrial customers who remain with DP&L as their electricity supplier should see a decrease of 2 percent to 6 percent.

The Consumers’ Counsel has said the office doesn’t consider the charge reasonable because it allows utilities to insulate themselves from competition.

On Nov. 1, DPL’s parent company and acquirer AES Corp. said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it would take a write-off on the value of its DPL assets in the range of $1.7 to $2 billion.
  • To file an online public comment about the case, consumers can visit PUCO’s website Docketing Information System located at http://dis.puc.state.oh.us/. Type in case number 12-0426 in the upper right-hand corner to access the case docket.
  • The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel has put together a chart to show the various electric service offers being made to DP&L customers: http://pickocc.org/electric/choice.shtml

Despite hurricanes, Caribbean still a popular travel destination

Published: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 @ 12:57 PM

A young woman hikes along a hanging bridge near Arenal Volcano National Park in Costa Rica.
Jeff Diener/Getty Images/Aurora Creative
A young woman hikes along a hanging bridge near Arenal Volcano National Park in Costa Rica.(Jeff Diener/Getty Images/Aurora Creative)

It’s been about a month since a trio of hurricanes barreled through the Caribbean and Florida, destroying many popular vacation spots.

Despite all the damage, the majority of destinations are open for business and need visitors to return.

A travel group just produced a video called “One Caribbean Family” that drives home the theme that the islands are still beautiful and welcoming.

>> Read more trending news 

Maryella Blundo, of Dream Come True Travel, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said there are 30 islands open for business and fully functional.

Every day, she receives updates from hotel vendors listing all the hotels that are accepting reservations.

The storms did devastate spots like Puerto Rico, St. Martin and the Virgin islands.

Many, however, fared much better.

“Aruba, Jamaica,” Blundo said. “You have places like Trinidad and Tobago that were virtually untouched. There’s Curacao. There’s Bonaire. There’s the Bahamas.”

Although parts of Florida are still cleaning up, many locations are ready for visitors.

Javier Rosenberg graduated from the hospitality program at Boston University and now runs three hotels in Florida.

One is in Naples, and two are in the Florida Keys.

"It's quite different where you look,” he said. “Miami, for example, I would say the East Coast is pretty much back to normal in many ways. On the West Coast, which suffered a more direct impact from Hurricane Irma, I think you will still see a number of hotels are closed.”

Rosenberg is happy with the pace of the cleanup and says tourist areas got priority.

“If you are planning to go down to Florida in December, January, or February, I think you have to ask a few great questions just to make sure you are comfortable,” Rosenberg said. “In some of the Keys, you want to make sure you have enough restaurant options that are open.”

There may be an opportunity to get a deal in the Sunshine State.

“In the next few months, you probably will see some specials as hotels, and I think destinations, try to get people comfortable with the idea of coming back, so I think there are some great deals and opportunities out there,” Rosenberg said.

At Boston Logan International Airport, most travelers said they’d be willing to go south in a few months to get a reprieve from a Boston winter.

One woman said, “Obviously, it’s pretty tragic what happened there, but I don’t think that I would have any reason not to go.”

“I would still go," one man said. "They are still safe to travel to. I would, but if you had the money to go to the Caribbean, then do it, but Florida is definitely a good option.”

Maryella Blunda told WFXT that she doesn’t expect to see deep discounts in the Caribbean.

She said some resorts are offering perks like spa discounts, but that’s about it.

If you aren’t interested in the Caribbean this year, she suggests checking out Costa Rica and Panama.

Before he went silent, the security guard from the Las Vegas shooting opened up on ‘Ellen’

Published: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 @ 2:03 PM

People visit a makeshift memorial for victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
John Locher/AP
People visit a makeshift memorial for victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)(John Locher/AP)

A security officer who was shot trying to stop Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock at the Mandalay Bay hotel on Oct. 1 appeared in a pre-recorded interview on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” on Wednesday, following reports that he had gone missing.

Jesus Campos told Ellen DeGeneres that he made his way up to the 32nd floor of the hotel as Paddock fired into a crowd of 2,000 concertgoers attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival. When he arrived at the floor, he saw that the doors to the stairwell were locked, which caused him to call the engineering team.

>> Read more trending news

“I’m walking down [the hallway] and I believe that’s what caught the shooter’s attention,” he said. “As I was walking down I heard rapid fire, and at first I took cover. I felt a burning sensation. I went to go lift my pant leg up, and I saw the blood. That’s when I called it in on my radio, that shots had been fired.”

Paddock reportedly shot Campos through the door of his suite, where hotel engineer Stephen Schuck found him. Schuck also appeared on “Ellen” alongside Campos.

“I saw Jesus, and I started to hear shooting. At the time I didn’t know it was shooting; I thought it was a jackhammer,” Schuck said. “That’s when Jesus, he leaned out, and he said, ‘Take cover! Take cover!’ Yelled at me, and within milliseconds, if he didn’t say that, I would’ve got hit.”

Schuck said that Paddock also started shooting at him through the door and that he felt “pressure” as the bullets passed his head.

RELATED: “RHOC” star’s stepdaughter copes with trauma after surviving the Las Vegas shooting

DeGeneres applauded Campos for being a “hero” and saving so many lives.

“I know that you have had so many people asking you to tell the story, and I know you have had so much reluctance, and you want this to be over,” DeGeneres said. “It’s helpful for people to understand what a hero you are, because you, being shot in the leg, saved so many people’s lives, and instead of you just getting out of there, you saved Stephen’s life and that woman’s life and who knows how many other people.”

Campos stayed behind to help police piece together the incident instead of seeking treatment at the hospital.

Now, Campos told the host that he is “doing better each day. Slowly but surely, just healing physically and mentally.”

Both men politely declined DeGeneres’ usual gift of money, but the host couldn’t let these two heroes walk away empty-handed. Schuck was gifted Colts tickets and VIP treatment to meet the team by the NFL, while Campos was thanked with a gift of season tickets to the Oakland Raiders and a $25,000 donation to the victims of the shooting.

Campos disappeared from the public eye just last week after suddenly canceling interviews on Fox News, CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC.

The company that owns Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino said that Campos “wants to tell his story at a time and place of his choosing.”

“He’s asked that everyone respect his request for privacy,” the company said in a statement. “We could not be more proud of Jesus.”

Family says Trump told fallen soldier's widow that husband 'knew what he signed up for'

Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 11:41 PM
Updated: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 @ 2:06 PM

Trump Responds to Claims He told Widow of Fallen Soldier He “Knew What He Signed Up For”

A congresswoman and the family of a U.S. Army soldier killed earlier this month in an ambush in Niger said President Donald Trump told the soldier’s widow that her husband “knew what he signed up for” before his death, an account the president staunchly denied.

>> Read more trending news

“I didn’t say what that congresswoman said – didn’t say it at all,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday.

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Florida, and the family of Army Sgt. La David Johnson told multiple news outlets that Trump told La David Johnson’s widow, Myeshia Johnson, that “he knew what he signed up for ... but when it happens, it hurts anyway.”

Reports: President Trump to Widow of Fallen Soldier, He Knew "What He Signed Up For"

Artists put their mark on pumpkins for Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

Published: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 @ 1:25 PM

Giant Jack-O-Lantern Fest Being Held In Kentucky

What do get when you pair -- or would it be pare -- artists with 5,000 pumpkins? You’d get the annual Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular in Louisville, Kentucky.

The gourds line a quarter-mile walking trail and are lit from dusk till 11 p.m. or midnight, depending on the day.

>> Read more trending news

While organizers have illuminated the 5,000 pumpkins, they say that 100 of them are carved into full works of art.

The pumpkins will be on display until Nov. 5, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

For more on the display, click here.