Ohio utility regulators reject AEP rate increases

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Ohio public utility regulators have rejected electric rate increases criticized by schools and small businesses as burdensome at a time of a weak economy and continued budget cuts.

The decision by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio on Thursday followed weeks of criticism of the increases, which many schools and small businesses criticized as burdensome.

The commission ordered Columbus-based American Electric Power to return its rates to levels similar to those in place in December when the commission first approved them.

These rates will remain in place until a new rate plan is adopted.

Commission chairman Todd Snitchler said the decision allows regulators to start over and ensure they have a complete picture of any rate proposal to balance the interests of customers and the utility.