Blue Ash, Ohio – Communities United For Action (CUFA) testified against Duke Energy’s proposed Central Corridor Pipeline Expansion Project tonight in what was billed as an official public hearing held by the Ohio Power Siting Board (OSPB).

The OPSB is an agency within the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) that approves or denies pipelines proposed within state boundaries, and is required by law to hold a local public hearing.

The high-pressure natural gas pipeline is proposed to cut through more than a dozen heavily populated communities spanning 13 miles from either Fairfax or Norwood to Mason.

The hearing went hours past the scheduled 8:00 PM end time, with person after person opposing construction of the proposed pipeline. Attendees from Neighbors Opposed to Pipeline Expansion (NOPE!) contended that the hearing should not be considered an official public hearing, citing that none of the voting members of the OPSB were present to hear testimony.

Robert Miles, CUFA Board Member and Environmental Committee Chair, testified on behalf of CUFA members, saying, “since Duke has come to Cincinnati, they have accrued quite the rap sheet. In the last 10 years, Duke has steadily increased rates, while simultaneously decreasing the quality of service.

Miles says he and his neighbors have experienced increased outages and slower response times. He cited that Duke recently fought for and won the ability to shut off people’s power without ever having to make a last attempt to collect in person.

“They can flip a switch from North Carolina now.”

For people who might not have access to email or consistent telephone services, the in-person visit could be the only way they know their power is getting turned off – and their last chance to avoid additional charges for reconnection.

Miles said that Duke Energy won’t foot the bill for the unnecessary pipeline, ratepayers will. Others testified that Duke has grossly underestimated the price tag.

“But that isn’t all they are asking for us to pay for,” Miles said. “They are currently also asking for a huge increase in the fixed rate we are all charged for electricity before we even turn on the lights. The increase being proposed would disproportionately impact low-income people, who pay more of a percentage of their income for utilities, and people who conserve electricity.”

“When will the PUCO, which is supposed to work to protect us – the ratepayers – say NO to Duke? If ever there has been an appropriate time to say no, when thousands of people’s lives are potentially on the line, that time is now. I urge you to reject this pipeline proposal.”

You can file your own comment with the OPSB by clicking “File a public comment” here or by visiting CUFA to fill out a comment card.

Several local municipalities have intervened in the case at the OPSB in opposition to the pipeline. An adjudicatory hearing will be held September 11, 2017 for all litigating parties – the OPSB, Duke Energy, residents and the intervening cities. Here are the details:

September 11, 2017 at 10 a.m. (rescheduled from July 12, 2017)
Public Utilities Commission of Ohio
Hearing Room 11-A
180 East Broad Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215