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ELECTRICITY Voters to decide if city tries for deal



Published: Sat, February 8, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Households would be expected to save $18 to $20 a year.

By ROGER G. SMITH

CITY HALL REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Residents will vote in May on whether the city should entertain offers from bulk electricity suppliers.

Residents and businesses could expect to save about 6 percent if voters approve the ballot measure and the city reaches a contract with an electricity supplier, officials say.

Council voted Wednesday to put the item on the May 6 ballot, as required by law.

The vote would authorize the city to negotiate with electricity suppliers. The ballot item does not tie the city to any rates or particular suppliers.

If the voters approve, suppliers would make proposals to the city. Council would pick the best deal. Residents who don't want to switch could opt out of the deal.

Anticipated savings would be $18 to $20 a year for households and $70 to $150 for businesses.

That amounts to $1 million to $1.2 million a year in savings. That's money residents will have to spend on other things, said John Walter. He is an account executive at FirstEnergy Solutions in Akron, an arm of FirstEnergy.

"It's money that stays in the hands of the residents," he said.

Walter asked council to consider putting the item on the ballot.

If approved, FirstEnergy Solutions will be one of several suppliers seeking a deal with the city, he said.

How this would work

Ohio Edison will continue being in charge of distribution and transmission of electricity no matter what decision the city makes.

Akron, Toledo and Summit County governments have deals with FirstEnergy to buy bulk electricity.

The opt-out rate for residents in those areas is 7 percent to 10 percent; business opt out is about 3 percent.

Michael Rapovy, D-5th, called the decision to put the item on the ballot a "no-brainer."

Council considered a similar offer in 2001, but such an initiative would have cost the city about $60,000.

This arrangement wouldn't cost the city anything, said Mayor George M. McKelvey. The supplier will pay all administration costs, he said.

The city won't make any deal if it can't achieve savings for residents, he said. Savings could be more than expected, however, depending on how good a deal the city can get, McKelvey added.




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