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FirstEnergy: Deny request for light-bulb rehearing



Published: Wed, October 21, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Marc Kovac

FirstEnergy called its rehearing before the PUCO ‘a media stunt.’

COLUMBUS — FirstEnergy has asked state energy regulators to deny an advocacy group’s request for a rehearing on its planned distribution of energy-efficient light bulbs to customers.

In a filing with the Ohio Public Utilities Commission, the company said it already had invested $10 million in the program, which was approved by state regulators, and is holding millions of the bulbs in a warehouse pending discussions with state officials.

The filing came in response to a request for a rehearing from the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel after a public outcry over FirstEnergy’s plans to distribute compact fluorescent light bulbs to its customers, then charge them for the costs.

FirstEnergy called the rehearing request “nothing more than a media stunt intended to deflect criticism of those who object to the state’s policy mandating energy efficiency and peak demand reduction programs.”

And the company said the consumers’ counsel was among the parties involved in original discussions of the light-bulb program that was already approved by PUCO.

“We don’t see that there is any basis for a rehearing on the issues that have already been expressed and addressed to what we believed was their satisfaction at the time,” said Ellen Raines, FirstEnergy spokeswoman.

But Anthony Rodriguez, a spokesman for the consumers’ counsel, called FirstEnergy’s comments unfair.

“From the beginning, we advised FirstEnergy that its program was a bad model to promote energy efficiency,” he said. “They went ahead with the program anyway. ...When it became apparent that the program would be approved, the OCC and other consumer and environmental advocates did what we could to mitigate the severity of the program.”

Shana Eiselstein, PUCO spokeswoman, said the commission has 30 days to rule on the rehearing request, with a decision expected in early November. It will review arguments made by the consumers’ counsel and FirstEnergy in making that decision but does not comment on pending cases.

In September, FirstEnergy received approval from PUCO to distribute 3.75 million compact fluorescent light bulbs to residential customers. The company says the bulbs will save customers about $60 over a five- to seven-year period.

PUCO and Gov. Ted Strickland’s office received high volumes of phone calls and e-mails from customers angry about the light-bulb distribution.

FirstEnergy subsequently postponed distribution until meeting with PUCO to discuss the situation further. A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for next Wednesday.

In its filing this week, First- Energy defended plans to deliver bulbs directly to customers, rather than distributing coupons or vouchers to enable customers to buy them on their own.

“Less than 10 percent of customers who receive coupons take the necessary steps to purchase CFL bulbs, and this limited success occurs over an extended period of time,” the company wrote.

The company said cost recovery from customers is an essential part of meeting state-mandated, energy- efficiency benchmarks.

mkovac@dixcom.com


Comments

1CompMan(125 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Obviously First Energy does not have a supply chain management system as they would not have invested $10 Million or about $2.66 per bulb. They could have gone to Walmart the largest global seller of CFL and bought from them. Of course who actually uses 100 watt bulbs. They could have saved us more energy by offering 60 watt bulbs and charged us more for the electric we wont use. The law behind this is nothing nothing but a guaranteed revenue stream and hidden rate increase. How much of our monthly charges will now go toward image recovery rather than facility upgrades to avoid another episode of the eastern part of the U.S. to go dark. Pure arogance from a monoply player. Suggest law makers change the law now or we will be saddled with guaranteed revenue solutions. Legislators are you listening? We are watching.

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2JD010101(137 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Sounds like there is panic in FE's statements. They are on the hook for $10 mil. What brainchild is at the helm of this operation? And I would like to know how much his salary and bonuses are in order to retain this whiz bang?!

“From the beginning, we advised FirstEnergy that its program was a bad model to promote energy efficiency,”
Gee do you think?

I would like to see who the vendor was that they purchased all of these CFL's from. Could there be any relationships here. I think there needs to be a review of this event by the State Attorney.

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3lbodnar1950(5 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

I've replaced all lights in my house. If I get sent these bulbs I will refuse them and vote all who had anything to do with scheme out. Is anyone listening?

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