In their view

Published:

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio must side with open government by unsealing certain documents Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. wants kept sealed.

FirstEnergy owns, among other utilities, the Illuminating and Ohio Edison companies. At issue are documents pertaining to FirstEnergy's energy-efficiency measures. They surfaced as part of quarterly meetings ("collaboratives") the PUCO ordered. ...

A FirstEnergy spokesman has said the company contends that data in some of the sealed documents could, if revealed, help competitors gain an advantage over FirstEnergy. Moreover, in FirstEnergy's filing with the PUCO, the company contends that nowhere in Ohio law "is there statutory authority for the commission to dictate the information that must be disclosed to third parties through a voluntary stakeholder process."

Nice try, but that's not how Ohio's open-records law works. Ohio presumes a record is public unless the law specifically closes it...

In this instance, the PUCO is the people's trustee. If unsealing the data really would disadvantage FirstEnergy, it's hard to understand why the other three Ohio electric utilities don't also seal their "collaborative" data.

The General Assembly, via Senate Bill 310 -- a bill FirstEnergy quietly favored -- froze Ohio's energy-efficiency standards for 2015 and 2016. Unsealing the FirstEnergy data at issue in this dispute could offer Ohioans fuller information on the energy-efficiency options they should consider.

The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer

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